Taiwan High Court, Taipei City. Photo: Google Maps
Taiwan High Court, Taipei City. Photo: Google Maps

A 35-year-old Indonesian migrant worker who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted of the murder of his 40-year-old compatriot girlfriend in February 2017 lost his appeal at the Taiwan High Court.

The defendant, named Jaryanto, and the victim, named Sopiah, entered Taiwan independently as legal migrant workers seven years ago. The pair met each other and developed a romantic relationship while working illegally in Lishan, Taichung, after running away from their former employers, Taiwan Apple Daily reported.

Since Jaryanto missed his homeland, he convinced his girlfriend that they should return to Indonesia together. On February 13, the pair went to Yilan and sought help from a Taiwanese woman surnamed Chang, the owner of a grocery shop.

The two Indonesians reported themselves to police but were told to visit the station the next morning instead. Chang allowed them to stay overnight at her shop, but the couple then had a deadly dispute. Sopiah reportedly changed her mind about turning herself in and being repatriated to Indonesia.

Jaryanto told the appeal court that he never meant to kill her, but admitted that he had kicked his girlfriend in the waist, after which she lost her balance and hit her head on a wall.

The defense lawyer said the case should have been one of manslaughter, not murder, as Jaryanto had had difficulty explaining exactly what happened because of the language barrier. As well, the defense argued, neighbors could testify that the defendant had mourned over the death of Sopiah, suggesting that he had not killed her with intent.

However, the High Court judge ruled that the previous ruling would stand, as the defendant had clearly admitted that he cleaned up the crime scene as he was afraid of being caught. There were also money issues between the pair, which served as motive for the crime.