Asia-Pacific

Jessica Wongso gets 20 years for cyanide murder

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An Australian resident has been sentenced to 20 years after judges found she killed her friend with a cyanide-laced coffee in Jakarta.

An Australian resident has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after being found guilty of murdering her friend with a cyanide laced coffee.

Jessica Kumala Wongso, 28, remained expressionless as three Jakarta judges read out the sentence in the case that has dominated the Indonesian press since it began earlier this year.

The judges found on Thursday that she had shown no remorse and was not sorry for killing 27-year-old friend Wayan Mirna Salihin at a Jakarta cafe on January 6.

"I don't accept this decision because for me, it's not fair and very one-sided," Wongso said after the verdict.

She smiled as she was led away.

During the marathon session the three Jakarta judges made findings on the "emotional baggage" that they said led Wongso to return to Jakarta in December last year, after living in Australia.

"I don't accept this decision because for me, it's not fair and very one-sided."

"Because of the defendant's personal problem in Australia which were so horrifying ... [she] decided to come back to Indonesia," Judge Binsar Gultom said.

"It was not with the intention of having a holiday, but because of her many problems [to do with her] relationships, social life, work and legal problems."

He said Wongso was still hurting over her break-up with Australian man Patrick O'Connor in late 2014 and when she first met up with Mirna and her husband Arif Soemarko last December and saw them "so happy" something was "triggered".

During the trial two Australian forensic experts put forward by the defence argued it was not possible to conclude that Mirna had died from cyanide poisoning, as an autopsy had not taken place on religious grounds.

Dr Michael Robertson said only a small amount of cyanide had been found in samples from Mirna's stomach and her death could have been due to other causes.

But the judges rejected this, finding almost 300mg of cyanide had entered Mirna's body - significantly eclipsing the lethal dose of around 120 mg.

Wongso, they added, was the only one at Olivier cafe in central Jakarta that day with the means and motive to carry out the murder.

Oustide court Mirna's father Eddy Dermawan Salihin hit out at the sentence and the deal struck with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) following Wongso's arrest in January.

The AFP only agreed to assist with the police investigation on the proviso that the death penalty would not be sought or carried out.

Were it not for the agreement, he said, Wongso could have been sentenced to death.

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