A 37-year-old woman who admitted to stealing a newborn baby from a Meanchey district hospital on Monday was charged on Friday by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with the unlawful removal of a minor and faces two to five years in prison if found guilty, a court official said.
“The court charged [Sok] Chanthy with unlawful removal of a minor under Article 9 of suppression of human trafficking and sexual exploitation law,” said Phan Sothearith, a Phnom Penh Municipal Court clerk.
Mr. Sothearith said that due to the lack of evidence to Ms. Chanthy’s claim, the court did not believe that she had miscarried on October 17, which is what she claimed had prompted her to snatch the newborn baby.
Neighbors of the suspect on Friday said that Ms. Chanthy, of Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune, was not known to be pregnant.
“She [Ms. Chanthy] was not pregnant before she went missing for a couple of days, so it was odd seeing her come back home holding a baby in her arms,” said Meas Say, chief of Trapaing Chhuk village where Ms. Chanthy lives.
“The neighbors of the suspect told me that over the past two years that the family has rented the house and lived in this village, they had never seen her pregnant before,” he said.
When police were called to Ms. Chanthy’s house following reports that the missing child may be inside, the suspect’s husband was quick to insist that she return the baby back to its parents, the village chief said.
The stolen baby was only 6 hours old when Ms. Chanthy took him from Meanchey District Referral Hospital to her house.
Ms. Chanthy was apparently identified as the kidnapper after television and radio stations reported that a woman wearing bright pink and purple pajamas had snatched the baby.
The day after the baby was stolen, a resident of Ms. Chanthy’s village, who miraculously was a friend of the baby’s grandfather, reported seeing a woman with pajamas that matched the reports. Police were informed and found the child when they searched the house.