Margriet Megawe, Engeline's foster mother, has been indicted on murder and child abuse charges that carry a maximum penalty of death. (Antara Foto/Nyoman Budhiana)

Possible Death Sentence Looms for Woman Accused of Killing Foster Daughter


OCTOBER 22, 2015

Denpasar. A woman accused of killing her foster daughter and burying the child’s body in her back yard went on trial in Bali on Thursday, where she faces charges that carry a maximum penalty of death.

Margriet Megawe is charged with murder under the Criminal Code and with child abuse under the 2014 Child Protection Law, or the murder in May of 8-year-old Engeline, in a case that has gripped the nation.

The child’s body was discovered buried in the back yard of Margriet’s Denpasar home in June, a month after the family reported Engeline missing and launched online pleas for her return.

The prosecution’s indictment against Margriet revolves largely around confessions from her former housekeeper, Agustinus Tay, who claims Margriet killed Engeline by slamming her head against a wall and paid him to help her dispose of the body.

The indictment also details a history of abuse by the defendant against the victim, including stubbing out lit cigarettes on the child’s body.

Agustinus, who initially confessed to the murder but later recanted, saying his statement was made under duress from the police, alleges that Margriet ordered him to rape Engeline after she killed the child, to make it look like she was the victim of a sex crime, but that he refused to do so.

He did, however, agree to help dig a hole in the back yard and bury the body there, claiming that Margriet promised to pay him Rp 200 million ($14,700) to keep silent and to take the fall if the body was discovered.

The start of Thursday’s hearing at the Denpasar District Court was delayed when Engeline’s biological mother, Hamidah, burst out crying in the courtroom and demanding that Margriet be found guilty and sentenced to death.

Judge Edward Haris Sinaga, presiding, adjourned the reading of the indictment to ask that Hamidah be moved to another room in the courthouse from where she could follow the proceedings on a video link.

As of press time, prosecutors were still reading out the indictment.

Agustinus faces lesser charges of accessory to murder.