Ice Cold: Murder, Coffee, and Jessica Wongso is an Indonesian Netflix documentary film that revolves around the infamous murder case of Mirna Salihin, who was allegedly murdered by her friend, Jessica Wongso, an Australian resident. This particular murder case gained immense notoriety in Indonesia and was called the “Crime of the Century” in Indonesian murder history. However, to call it the biggest crime of the century is a bit overrated. The entire murder case and the trial are not very compelling to watch and are about as exciting as soap opera, as there are no intriguing elements or complications in the case. The entire murder case appears to be a mere set-up, imprisoning Jessica without proper evidence.
Mirna Salihin and Jessica graduated from the same college in Sydney. While Jessica stayed in Sydney for her job, Mirna came back home and got married. Jessica’s inability to attend her wedding became a matter of discussion, leading everyone to believe that Jess might have been jealous of Mirna. However, after Jessica came to visit Mirna, the two best friends went to a cafe to have some Vietnamese coffee. Tragically, after just one sip, Mirna started having severe convulsions and subsequently lost her life.
A crowd gathered, including the waiter and the manager of the cafe. They pointed out that Jessica was not very worried about the situation and wasn’t even trying to save her friend. Although it is really weird how calm and relaxed Jessica’s demeanor was, she didn’t look like a cold-blooded killer who would kill Mirna in broad daylight in the midst of a bustling restaurant. However, soon after the investigation started, it was found that Mirna’s coffee was laced with cyanide. Mirna’s father didn’t want the forensic to perform an autopsy on Mirna, but after the body was sent to the forensic investigation, he gave his approval. Mirna’s father, Dermawan Salihin, seemed to be a dangerous man who came to the interview carrying a gun in his pocket. The producers asked him to put the gun outside, but he said it was completely alright as the gun’s safety lock was on. His behavior has already raised many questions as to whether he is a gentleman at all.
However, as Mirna’s autopsy was done, initially, there was no sign of cyanide in her blood, but after three days, a very small dosage of cyanide was found. It was almost 0.2 mg of cyanide, which scientifically couldn’t be the reason for Mirna’s death. Jessica was arrested based on CCTV footage that was found in the restaurant on the day of Mirna’s death. It was found that Jessica arrived at the restaurant early and ordered a coffee for herself. Her coffee glass was not visible in the footage, because she put her bag in front of it. Therefore, the investigators believed that by hiding the coffee glass she laced it with cyanide before Mirna arrived there. Jessica denied all the claims and continued to maintain her innocence, but the weirdest thing was that her demeanor was still calm and relaxed even during the trial. She always had a smile on her face, even though everyone was pointing their fingers at her. It was extremely odd and gave us the impression that she might not have grasped the gravity of the situation.
Jessica’s trial had begun, and she hired Otto Hasibuan, one of the most popular and competent advocates in Indonesia, as her defense attorney. However, the prosecution team was as strong as Otto, and it seemed like no matter whether there was strong evidence or not, they were hellbent on proving Jessica’s guilt by any means necessary. During the trial, a lot of interesting information surfaced, revealing that the forensics team didn’t even perform an autopsy on Mirna’s dead body but rather completely relied on the samples that were found in her abdominal fluid. Otto pointed out that only 0.2 mg of cyanide was not enough to kill someone, so her cause of death was open to interpretation, but seemingly, the judge didn’t accept any strong evidence other than the circumstances.
Even when a pathologist from Australia was brought to Indonesia, the prosecution objected to the pathologist’s limited visa and ensured his return to Australia. From the very surface, it looked like a set-up, and Otto realized that no matter how hard he fought, they wouldn’t win the case. Finally, the verdict was declared, and Jessica was found guilty of the first-degree murder of her friend Mirna Salihin. She was given a 20-year prison sentence, which crushed all hope for Jessica to return to her normal life. She is now serving her sentence in prison and has continued to appeal for release, but all the appeals have been declined by the court. Otto is still working on gathering strong evidence to support Jessica’s innocence in the case, but it seemed like it would end up being a futile effort.
Jessica was suffering from severe mental trauma, despite the fact that her initial attitude was calm.
Now, she had realized that the situation had escalated to a point from which she could never get out. The people of Indonesia were beginning to believe that she was nothing more than a murderer. As a result, she lost her normal life and her close friends. It is uncertain whether or not she will receive the death penalty for the crime she had been accused of, however, Otto can attest to the fact that Jessica did not deserve it. It was nothing but a set-up, and some serious power play took place under the table, causing a young girl like Jessica to fall into this trap.
The documentary showcases Indonesia’s biggest crime, although it didn’t seem worth the publicity it received. It is very sad that the judicial system of this country is so weak that it does not value evidence in a crime investigation. It does not properly examine the motive behind the murder. Hearing the words of the legal prosecutors will leave you with no other feeling than anger. Even when Jessica wanted to give an interview to the documentary producers, the police refused to allow her to do so. The police intervention throughout the case proves that there was a complex power play behind the case that framed Jessica for murder. I don’t know if there are more incidents like this in the history of crime in Indonesia, but overall, this incident will make you angry about justice and corrupt power dynamics.