Defendant Claims Baby Girl’s Kidnapping Was Out of Love

A woman accused of kidnapping a 6-month-old girl found in a bag near a dumpsite told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court at trial on Wednesday that she took her friend’s baby because she was “completely obsessed” with the child.

Yin Sotheara, a 34-year-old widow and mother of two on trial for attempted murder, testified that she hatched a plan to take the baby and put it into action while playing cards at her friend’s nearby home one evening in March.

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Yin Sotheara, on trial for attempted murder after she allegedly kidnapped a baby later found abandoned at a dumpsite, covers her face in a van at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday. (Ouch Sony/The Cambodia Daily)

“I am completely obsessed with loving this baby and I had a rash idea,” she said. “I have never had a feeling of love for a kid like this kid.”

After excusing herself to use the bathroom, she snuck into the room the baby was in, taped the girl’s mouth to prevent her from making any noise and lowered her in a black plastic bag from the first floor with a rope, she said. After leaving the house, she uncovered the baby’s mouth and returned with the baby to her own home.

Not long after, Ms. Sotheara said she received a panicked telephone call from the baby’s mother—a friend of 10 years—and returned to her without the child, worried she would be scolded for her actions.

“I had the intention of adopting the baby,” she said “I had no revenge to take against her. She is my good friend.”

However, she panicked upon seeing her distraught friend and tried to think of another way to secretly return the girl, she said.

At about 4 a.m., she put the baby in the same plastic bag and drove back to her friend’s home with her hanging on the side of the motorbike. But when she saw her friend’s brother outside, she instead put the baby in her motorbike’s seat storage and drove past, Ms. Sotheara said. She said she laid the baby on a wooden bed by a food stall down the street.

“I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I wanted to show my love for this baby,” she said. “If I had wanted to kill this baby, it could not have survived until morning.”

According to the brother’s testimony, which was read out in court, he found the baby at a dumpsite after seeing Ms. Sotheara drive past and secretly following her. Presiding Judge Top Chhun Heng said the infant was found in a bag with her mouth taped, but was otherwise unharmed.

Deputy prosecutor Sin Virak upheld the attempted murder charge, saying the defendant’s actions could have killed the child.

But Cheat Sokha, Ms. Sotheara’s lawyer, said her client did not intend to kill the baby.

“If she had attempted to murder the baby, she would not have removed the tape from her mouth and bought milk for her,” she said.

Ms. Sotheara is being detained at Prey Sar prison awaiting the verdict scheduled for July 26. A conviction on the charge carries a prison sentence of 10 to 15 years.

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