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Suspects detained over death of toddler in southern Taiwan

2019/01/17 23:22:52

Taipei, Jan. 17 (CNA) The Tainan District Prosecutors Office on Thursday detained three adults and referred a young mother to appear in juvenile court in connection with the death of her 19-month-old baby girl.

The four suspects, including the 17-year-old mother and three other relatives, were arrested Wednesday morning after the child was taken to a local hospital the night before, where doctors found she had been dead for a few hours.

Medical staff said there were many bruises, knife cuts and cigarette burns on the girl's body and limbs, signs which suggested she had been a victim of severe child abuse, so they immediately notified the police.

According to local law enforcement officers, the suspects admitted to routinely lashing out physical punishment on the baby to silence her because she frequently cried.

After questioning, they were later handed over to the Tainan prosecutors' office on suspicion of homicide.

Word of the child's death quickly spread on social media and a crowd consisting of angry netizens gathered outside the police precinct where the suspects were being held on Wednesday.

On Thursday, police had to deploy additional officers to escort the three adult suspects to the Tainan Detention Center because a large number of people angry about the case had gathered outside the prosecutors' office.

According to prosecutors, the young mother will appear in juvenile court, where she is currently being detained until trial.

Besides causing a public outrage, the incident also caught the attention of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who expressed on Thursday her concern about the issue of child abuse in Taiwan and called on the public to report suspected cases to relevant authorities.

According to Presidential Office Spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺), President Tsai thinks that people in communities have a major role to play in the reporting of suspected child abuse in their neighborhoods.

People should pay close attention to such matters and call the relevant authorities if they think that a child in their vicinity is being abused, the president said.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), meanwhile, said at a Cabinet meeting that he was ashamed to see the number of child abuse incidents in Taiwan.

Su urged local governments to tackle the problem by stepping up their social network and he also called on the public to be more proactive about reporting known or suspected incidents of child abuse.

(By Chang Jung-hsiang, Yang Sz-ruei and Ko Lin)