Sri Lankan maid pleads not guilty to arson charge

Sri Lankan maid pleads not guilty to arson charge

April 16, 2015   12:00 pm

A Sri Lankan housemaid accused of setting her Bahraini employer’s home on fire before fleeing has appeared in court for the first time to plead not guilty.

The woman, aged 48, allegedly doused her room in petrol and set it alight before running away as the rest of the family was sleeping.

Video footage shows her covering a surveillance camera in the house, in Jid Ali, with cloth moments before the fire broke out on January 7, the High Criminal Court heard.

The blaze caused 70 per cent damage to the maid’s living quarters, according to court documents.

However, she pleaded not guilty to arson yesterday.

She admitted fleeing the home due to alleged mistreatment by her employer, but denied starting the fire.

“My sponsor’s wife always treated me badly and gave me a lot of work to do,” she said in her statement to prosecutors.

“I fled the house because of the mistreatment and I covered the camera so I wouldn’t be seen when I was fleeing.

“I then took two bags containing my clothes and a bag full of garbage and left the house after midnight.”

She said she removed the cloth from the surveillance camera before she fled because she was afraid it would get damaged.

The 47-year-old Bahraini employer told prosecutors that he was woken up by his son, who first realised a fire had broken out.

“My son came and shook me awake as he shouted that the house was on fire,” he said in his statement.

“He said that thick smoke and fire were coming out of the maid’s room so I rushed in and attempted to put out the fire.

“Civil Defence then arrived, but the fire had already damaged a wardrobe, air-conditioning unit, a bed and other furniture.”

The blaze is said to have caused damage worth BD1,700.

Judges adjourned the trial yesterday until May 14 to appoint a defence lawyer for the housemaid. – Gulf Daily News


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