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US teen held in Bali suitcase killing 'assaulted' while in custody, lawyer says

Published on Aug 17, 2014 2:30 PM
 
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. An American teenager suspected of killing her mother, whose body was found in a suitcase in Bali, has revealed she is pregnant and claims she has been assaulted in custody, her lawyer said. -- PHOTO: AFP

DENPASAR, Indonesia (AFP) - An American teenager suspected of killing her mother, whose body was found in a suitcase in Bali, has revealed she is pregnant and claims she has been assaulted in custody, her lawyer said.

Ms Heather Mack, 19, who denies any involvement in her mother's death, also alleges the police on the Indonesian resort island have threatened to deprive her of food and water if she does not speak to them, her United States-based lawyer Michael Elkin said in a statement.

He added that she was around two months pregnant.

However, the Bali police rejected the claims, insisting that all detainees were treated well.

The half-naked, battered body of Ms Sheila von Wiese Mack, 62, was discovered on Tuesday last week stuffed in a blood-stained suitcase in the boot of a taxi outside the exclusive St Regis hotel in the upscale Nusa Dua resort area.

Her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, who had been on holiday with the victim, were arrested a day later after fleeing the hotel.

The police say they have strong evidence against the pair, and are leaning towards charging them with premeditated murder, which carries a maximum penalty of death in Indonesia.

However, Mr Elkin has insisted claims that Ms Heather Mack was involved in her mother's death are false.

"Said allegations and reports are not true and will be disproven as the investigation continues or at the conclusion of trial, if formal charges are indeed filed," he said in a statement.

The daughter and her boyfriend have been named suspects in the case, but under the Indonesian legal system would only be formally charged in court at the start of a trial.

In a statement sent to AFP late on Saturday, Mr Elkin said his client "has been seriously physically assaulted while in custody", without giving further details, adding that she has been "pregnant for approximately two months".

"Heather was told that if she does not speak to the police she will be deprived of food and water," the statement went on.

"Heather was told that unless her attorney arrives within days she will be deprived of food and water and that he will be denied access to meet with her," it added.

The suspected killers have refused to talk to Indonesian investigators and insisted on having American legal representation. Mr Elkin said he plans to head to Bali soon. He said that he was not representing Mr Schaefer.

But Djoko Hari Utomo, police chief in the Balinese capital Denpasar, insisted: "All those detained here are well treated."

"I do not want to comment on something which doesn't even exist."

An FBI agent has travelled to Bali to help in the investigation, police on the resort island said Saturday. A doctor also revealed new details of the killing, including that the victim's neck had been broken.

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