Indonesia police to keep Bali suitcase murder suspects apart until they make statement

Heather Mack, suspected in the murder of her mother Sheila von Wiese Mack, gestures while in custody at a police station in Denpasar on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on Aug 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Heather Mack, suspected in the murder of her mother Sheila von Wiese Mack, gestures while in custody at a police station in Denpasar on the Indonesian resort island of Bali on Aug 14, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A United States teen and her boyfriend detained in connection with the death of the woman's mother on the resort island of Bali will not be allowed to speak to each other until after they make a police statement, their Indonesian lawyer said on Saturday.

Ms Heather Mack, 19, and Mr Tommy Schaefer, 21, were arrested last week as suspects over the death of Ms Mack's mother. They have not been charged. "She asked why she could not be with Tommy... I explained this was a technical aspect of the investigation," the couple's Indonesian lawyer Haposan Sihombing told Reuters. "Before you give a statement, you need to be separated first. Maybe after you have given a full statement you can meet (Tommy)," he added.

The two have hired US lawyer Michael Elkin to represent them and have refused to speak to their police-appointed Indonesian lawyer about what happened. Mr Elkin has advised them not to make any statements about the incident until he arrives.

Only an Indonesian lawyer is permitted to present a case to a domestic court. Suspects are not formally charged with a crime until after an investigation is completed and a trial begins. Police said the investigation, in which the FBI is assisting, could take weeks.

Ms Sheila von Wiese-Mack's battered body was found in a bloodied suitcase in a taxi outside the luxury St Regis hotel.

Police last week provided CCTV footage showing the couple speaking to a taxi driver after dropping off the bloodied suitcase along with other luggage outside the hotel.

Police said the two left, apparently to check out of the hotel, and never returned.

They were arrested at a nearby budget hotel.

An official at the hospital that conducted the autopsy said Ms von Wiese-Mack had been repeatedly hit on the face and head with a blunt object.

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