The Federal Court in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Photo: Google Maps

A couple of Chinese origin convicted of starving their 24-year-old Cambodian maid to death in 2012 were each jailed for 10 years after Malaysia’s Federal Court found them guilty on Thursday of committing culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Soh Chew Tong, 49, the owner of a hardware store, and his 46-year-old wife Chin Chui Ling from Bukit Mertajam in Penang, had been found guilty of murder by the Court of Appeal in December 2015, Sin Chew Daily (Malaysia) reported.

The 24-year-old victim named Mey Sichan, a Cambodian who came to Malaysia in September 2011, had been a domestic worker at Soh and Chin’s home in Taman Asas Murni.

At 4am on March 31, 2012, Mey was reportedly found dead in a bunk bed at his employers’ home. According to a post-mortem report, she weighed just 17 kilograms at the time, and there were 29 old and fresh injuries on her body.

Her death was caused by acute peritonitis due to a perforated gastric ulcer associated with abuses and neglect.

Previously the courts learnt that the couple did not provide any meals for their maid, which prompted her to look for leftovers in the garbage. The maid’s body weight plunged, yet the couple did not take her to a clinic nearby or to call a doctor to check on her health.

A lawyer for the defendants claimed that Mey was provided food, citing from the statement from Chin’s mother, who had also suggested taking the sick maid to get medical attention, but the victim herself allegedly declined to do that.

So, the Federal Court ruled that Soh and Chin had known that the Cambodian maid’s health was fragile but “without any intention to cause [her] death”.

Judges in the senior court revised their punishment from the death penalty to 10 years in jail for both of the accused.

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