Acquitted of murder in stillbirth

21 Août, 2019, 01:57 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Acquitted of murder in stillbirth

A 21-year-old rape victim in El Salvador who was suspected of having an abortion after her baby was found dead in the toilet where she gave birth has been cleared of murder in a case that attracted worldwide attention to the country's strict laws.

Ms Hernandez miscarried at 32 weeks in 2016 while using an outdoor toilet. When she went to the bathroom, she fainted and was taken to a hospital.

The body of a newborn boy was found in the toilet septic tank.

An appeals court in El Salvador on Monday acquitted a 21-year-old rape victim accused of killing her stillborn baby, in a case closely watched by rights groups.

Evelyn Hernandez hugs Teodora Vazquez, who had her sentenced commuted after 10 years in jail over an abortion.

Prosecutors charged her with the upgraded charge of aggravated murder and she was found guilty. In 2018, a higher court overturned this ruling and ordered a re-trial.

The Supreme Court found the original judge's decision to be based on prejudice and insufficient evidence.

Activists belonging to Women's NGOs demonstrate in support of Evelyn Hernandez.

The month-long retrial concluded last Friday, with prosecutors requesting a 40-year sentence. Tests showed that the baby died of meconium aspiration - which is when a baby inhales their own stool, which blocks the airways.

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"Thank God, justice has been done", Hernandez said as she thanked her supporters from the steps of the courthouse in San Salvador's northeastern Ciudad Delgado district.

"There are many women who are still locked up and I call for them to be freed soon, too."

Dozens of women in El Salvador prisons have similar convictions.

Amnesty International welcomed the verdict as a "resounding victory for the rights of women in El Salvador".

Some 147 Salvadoran women have been sentenced to up to 40 years in prison in such cases between 2000 and 2014, according to the Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion, a local rights group. There are no legal avenues for abortion and pregnancies can not be terminated for medical reasons, even if there is a risk to the mother.

A rape survivor who was jailed for having a stillbirth has been acquitted of all charges.

The case has attracted worldwide attention to El Salvador's strict abortion laws. The group said following Monday's judgement that it will ask for review in at least 16 cases.

When she was leaving prison she was met with a number of women who had been campaigning for her released after she was granted a retrial back in February of this year.

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