Tommy Schaefer waits in a holding cell at Denpasar District Court. (AFP Photo/Sonny Tumbelaka)

Lawyers Say Bali Suitcase Murder Charges Unclear

JANUARY 21, 2015

Denpasar. Lawyers for an American couple accused of murdering the woman's mother and stuffing her body in a suitcase on Bali said on Wednesday the charges were unclear and inaccurate.

Heather Mack, who is pregnant, and Tommy Schaefer could face the death penalty if found guilty of the premeditated murder of Sheila von Wiese Mack, 62, whose body was found in the case in the boot of a taxi in August.

Lawyer Ni Kadek Sri Novi Wirani told the Denpasar District Court the charges were "unclear and vague."

"There was no eyewitness who could explain how the incident took place, while the victim herself is dead and so was unable to provide testimony," she added.

Prosecutors had alleged that Schaefer had "blindly hit" Von Wiese Mack with a bowl in a fit of rage after she directed a racial slur at him during an argument. Schaefer is black.

He then continued hitting her face on the bed "until she stopped moving", they said.

The indictment said that 19-year-old Heather Mack hid in the bathroom during the attack before the couple stuffed the victim's body in a suitcase.

Mack and Schaefer, who went on trial separately, refused to speak to reporters after the trial. The next hearing will be on Jan. 28.

The victim and the suspects are from the Chicago area.

Agence France-Presse