Coffee cyanide murder appeal to raise CCTV, autopsy evidence

Jessica Kumala Wongso was found guilty by a Jakarta court last week and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Photo / AP
Jessica Kumala Wongso was found guilty by a Jakarta court last week and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Photo / AP

The lack of a complete autopsy and potential tampering of key prosecution evidence will be among the key points raised in the appeal of an Australian resident found guilty of murdering her friend with a cyanide-laced coffee.

When Jessica Kumala Wongso was found guilty by a Jakarta court last week and sentenced to 20 years in prison, her lawyer Otto Hasibuan turned to her and told her not to cry.

He was worried, he told AAP, that her tears would be used against her at a later date.

During the verdict the three Jakarta court judges spoke at length about what they described as the 28-year-old's staged demeanour - saying her crying had not been "pure" with "no liquid dripping from the mouth".

Murder victim Mirna Salihin. Photo / Facebook
Murder victim Mirna Salihin. Photo / Facebook

In his 34 years practising law, Mr Hasibuan said he had never experienced a verdict like it.

"How can they say what she feels," he said.

"The reason why the people are so interested in this case is because it's already felt by the people of Indonesia that they don't receive justice."

Wongso's legal team lodged an appeal memo stating their intention to challenge the verdict on Friday and are now awaiting a complete version of the court's findings before preparing a full statement.

Following a highly-publicised trial that spanned more than four months, Wongso was found guilty on Thursday of murdering her friend Wayan Mirna Salihin with a cyanide-laced coffee at Jakarta's Olivier cafe on January 6. The pair had studied together at Sydney's Billy Blue design college.

Among the key points Wongso's appeal is expected to focus on was the failure to carry out a full autopsy on Mirna and the alleged lack of consideration of defence expert forensic testimony by the judges.

Mirna's family had objected to a full autopsy being carried out on religious grounds, so her stomach, liver and urine were the only things that were tested. While prosecutors said 298mg of cyanide was discovered in the coffee after Mirna's death, a test of her stomach 70 minutes after she died showed no traces of the poison.

Jessica Wongso at the crime reconstruction in the cafe Olivier Grand in central Jakarta. Photo / Indonesian Police
Jessica Wongso at the crime reconstruction in the cafe Olivier Grand in central Jakarta. Photo / Indonesian Police

When tests were conducted around three days after her death just 0.2 grams were found inside her stomach.

Defence experts from Australia say a natural cause of death can't be ruled out and that based on the toxicology reports, it can't be concluded Mirna had died from cyanide poisoning.

None of these discrepancies, Mr Hasibuan argued, was properly considered by the judges.

"I understand that they have a right not to accept the expert witness (testimony). But according to the law they must give reasons. They never did," he told AAP.

The CCTV presented at court from inside Olivier cafe - a key element of the prosecution case - was also not the original but a copy police had transferred to a flashdrive.

Mr Hasibuan said the original CCTV was never given to the defence. This raises concerns it may have been tampered with and that frames may have been lost or deleted.

"We cannot compare the CCTV given to the court with the original one."

The appeal will be heard in the Jakarta High Court.

- AAP

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