El Salvador acquits woman charged with murder over premature birth
A judge in El Salvador on Monday acquitted a 20-year-old rape victim originally charged with murder after giving birth prematurely in a toilet.
Imelda Cortez’s daughter survived but the woman was charged homicide after the baby was found in a septic tank.
It was seen as a landmark case by women’s rights groups in El Salvador, where abortion is completely banned and women can face up to 40 years in prison, even for a miscarriage.
A court in the southeastern city of Usulutan “absolved” Cortez, her defense lawyer Bertha Maria Deleon wrote on Twitter.
A spokesman from the La Casa de Todas feminist group confirmed to AFP that Cortez was “free.”
Cortez fell pregnant to her stepfather, who allegedly raped her repeatedly over a seven-year period.
She has already spent more than a year and a half behind bars awaiting trial.
The case took a dramatic turn when prosecutors changed the charge against her from homicide to “abandonment and neglect.”
“We know that Imelda didn’t commit any crime,” one of Cortez’s lawyers, Keyla Caceres told AFP earlier.
The premature birth was discovered after Cortez sought hospital treatment in April 2017 for a hemorrhage.
Doctors examining her took out the placenta.
Cortez said she’d felt something come out of her when using the bathroom.
Police and soldiers inspected the septic tank at Cortez’s house and found a crying baby “covered in feces and white dust,” according to legal authorities.
The baby was taken to hospital and survived.
El Salvador has some of the toughest anti-abortion laws in the world, banning the process even in cases of rape or when a mother’s life is at risk.
Caceres said Cortez was representative of “girls and young adolescents whose human rights are completely violated” by the country’s unforgiving abortion laws.
Thanks for reading The Tico Times. We strive to keep you up to date about everything that’s been happening in Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we need your help. The Tico Times is partly funded by you and every little bit helps. If all our readers chipped in a buck a month we’d be set for years.
You may be interested
USNS Comfort mission to arrive in Costa Rica this weekendAlejandro Zúñiga - July 16, 2019
Costa Rica will receive this weekend the USNS Comfort, a United States Navy hospital ship, as part of the vessel's…
Pic of the Day: The works of Costa Rican artist Jorge Jiménez DerediaAFP and The Tico Times - July 16, 2019
Today's featured photo shows the sculpture "Genesis de Huevo" by Italy-based Costa Rican artist Jorge Jiménez Deredia as it appeared…
Costa Rican students continue protests over public education programsMonserrat Cordero Parra and Rita Valverde / Semanario Universidad - July 15, 2019
Costa Rican high school students demonstrated Monday in front of the Rofas Building in San José and closed educational centers…