Youtube comments could bring tougher sentence for U.S. woman in Bali suitcase murder


 Reuters International

Heather Mack of the U.S. waits inside a holding cell at a Denpasar court before her court appearance on the Indonesian resort island of Bali April 21, 2015. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

(reuters_tickers)

DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Indonesia are examining online video comments by a U.S. woman jailed for 10 years over the 2014 murder of her mother on the resort island of Bali to decide if they justify a stiffer sentence, authorities said on Monday.

Heather Mack, originally from Chicago, was tried and convicted alongside then-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer in the murder of her mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase in a taxi outside a luxury hotel.

In the video uploaded to Youtube on Feb. 2, Mack speaks to the camera, saying she initially asked Schaefer to find someone to kill her mother, but he refused.

"I don't regret killing my mother ... but I regret bringing Tommy into it. Tommy is an innocent man," she says.

It was unclear when or where the video was recorded.

A lawyer for Mack said she had been pressured into making the confession video.

"We suspect Tommy's motivation is to attack Heather after they broke up," the lawyer, Ben Seran, told Reuters.

Schaefer's lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors were studying the video, said Ashari Kurniawan, a public relations official in the Bali prosecutor's office.

"If Mack is indeed the mastermind of the murder, the video can be used as evidence in the case, and the sentence should be heavier than it is now," he said.

Mack and her mother, who had a troubled relationship, had travelled together to Bali in August 2014, and were staying at a luxury hotel, the St. Regis Bali resort. Schaefer joined them, surprising von Wiese-Mack, who did not know he was coming to Indonesia.

Schaefer, who said in court he had killed von Wiese-Mack in self-defence, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for premeditated murder.

Mack was convicted of being an being an accessory to murder. She is serving her term in a Bali prison where she gave birth to a daughter just before being sentenced.

In the three-part video, Mack says although Schaefer is innocent, he had helped hide her mother's body in the suitcase.

"I don't want to live in a lie anymore. I made it up in my heart ... that I wanted to kill my mother," she says, adding that she believed her mother had killed her father several years earlier.

(Reporting by Reuters stringer in DENPASAR Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Reuters

 Reuters International