Spanish judge upgrades charge to murder in 12-year-old's death

Posted Oct 19, 2013 by Anne Sewell
On Friday the judge in the case against Rosario Porto and Alfonso Basterra upgraded charges relating to the death of their adopted daughter, 12-year-old Chinese-born Asunta, from homicide to murder.
Asunta Yong Fang Basterra  12-year-old girl found dead in woodlands near Santiago de Compostela.
Asunta Yong Fang Basterra, 12-year-old girl found dead in woodlands near Santiago de Compostela.
Digital Journal has been keeping up to date in the case of the death of Asunta Yong Fang Basterra Porto, adopted Chinese-born daughter of 44-year-old Rosario Porto and 49-year-old Alfonso Basterra.
In a case that has gripped Spain, on Friday the judge, José Antonio Vázquez Taín, upgraded the charges against the parents from homicide to murder.
Previously Porto and Basterra were charged with "homicide, possible murder" and imprisoned without bail while the court awaited results of toxicological tests on their adoptive daughter's body.
However, on questioning the two suspects again on Friday, the judge leading the investigation upgraded the charges because of "the aggravating circumstances of treachery and kinship," according to a written statement from the High Court of Galicia.
The difference is that homicide is the legal term for killing without premeditation while murder relates to a case of planned killing.
The background of the story is that the body of 12-year-old Asunta was found in woodlands surrounding Santiago de Compostela in the early hours of the morning of September 22. This was merely hours after her parents had reported that she was missing.
Police have been investigating and searched for a second time a home in the countryside belonging to Rosario Porto's recently deceased parents. Asunta's body was found about five kilometers (three miles) from this house.
Both Porto and her husband Basterra denied killing their adoptive daughter in a court appearance last month.
However, evidence surfaced that Asunta had been drugged with a central nervous system depressant with sedative, amnesic and anti-convulsant properties before being asphyxiated. Digital Journal reported that this particular drug is habitually taken by her mother. Previous evidence of the girl being in a drugged state was found from information given by two of Asunta's teachers.
According to El Mundo (in Spanish), the toxicological tests revealed that Asunta was being sedated with the tranquilizer Lorazepam, with high peaks in the month of July and in the hours before her death on September 21.
La Voz de Galicia (in Spanish) states that further evidence from the house showed that an orange rope, found at the country house, was of the same chemical composition as twine fibers found close to Asunta's lifeless body in the woodlands.
While not mentioned in recent news, it was reported on September 27 that detectives are investigating the possibility that Asunta stood to inherit money from Porto's parents, who recently passed away.
The couple adopted Asunta in China when she was a baby and China's foreign minister is reportedly "highly concerned about the case," according to ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a briefing in Beijing on September 27.
A transcript posted on the Chinese foreign ministry's website read: "Upon learning (about) the case, our embassy immediately got in touch with the Spanish police, requiring the Spanish side to launch an investigation at once."
The statement further called on Spanish authorities to "hold the perpetrators to justice and take concrete measures to ensure the safety as well as the legitimate rights and interests of adopted Chinese children".
Related news:
September 23, 2013 - Walkers find body of 12-year-old girl in the Galician countryside
September 25, 2013 - Mother of 12-year-old girl found dead near Santiago is arrested
September 27, 2013 - Both parents of dead 12-year-old Asunta detained, motive found
September 28, 2013 - Spain: Both parents in jail over killing of 12-year-old Asunta