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US teen accused of murdering mum in Bali may be handed over to FBI to face trial at home

Published on Aug 21, 2014 4:05 PM

DENPASAR (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Indonesia's National Police say it is possible that two United States citizens accused of murdering a 62-year-old US woman, Ms Sheila von Weise-Mack, while vacationing in Bali will be handed over to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for further investigation into the homicide.

National Police spokesman Ronny F. Sompie said on Wednesday that the suspects' transfer was possible, noting that the US authorities had once granted a request by the National Police for the transfer of an Indonesian murder suspect to the country.

"It is doable. The National Police and the Bali Police have coordinated closely. But for now, our main focus is finding more evidence in the murder," he said.

In the 1990s, the FBI assisted the Indonesian police in the investigation of a murder committed by an Indonesian citizen, who later faced prosecution here. The Indonesian citizen was Harnoko Dewantoro, aka Oki, who was suspected of killing an Indian national and two Indonesians - including his younger brother - in Los Angeles, California, between 1991 and 1992.

The investigation into the murder begun in 1994 after the US authorities found one of the victims' remains in a rented storage locker.

In 1997, Oki was sentenced to death, but in 2013 the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by then President Megawati Soekarnoputri.

In Bali, a preliminary investigation by the island's police and the FBI indicates that Ms Mack was murdered by her 19-year-old daughter, Heather Lois Mack, and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21. The two allegedly stuffed the victim's body in a suitcase and left it in the trunk of a taxi.

The Bali Police have faced difficulties in the investigation into the murder, with the suspects declining to be questioned, arguing that they were waiting for their lawyer from the US, Mr Michael Elkin, despite the Indonesian legal system not allowing US lawyers to practice in the country.

Mack has pleaded with the police to be allowed to return to the US to be treated for an ectopic pregnancy. Meanwhile, a local lawyer assigned to her case said that Mack claimed to have been physically assaulted while in custody and threatened that she would be deprived of food and water unless she talked to the police, according to the Associated Press.

The Bali Police have denied the accusation and said that the pregnancy test showed that the teenager's pregnancy was normal.

"We never assaulted her. We have given her special treatment. When she said she suffered an ectopic pregnancy, we rushed her to the hospital for treatment," Bali Police spokesman Hery Wiyanto said on Tuesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ms Von Weise-Mack's body was flown to the US under the escort of FBI agents.

An autopsy by the Sanglah Hospital forensics team found that the victim died due to obstruction of the respiratory tract, which was caused by a broken nose. The autopsy also found a broken bone in the victim's neck and several wounds to the left arm, an indication that the victim had tried to defend herself.

It was alleged that the victim was hit with a glass ashtray and fruit container, broken pieces of which were found in the hotel room. Police also found a piece of wood that may have been used to hit the victim.