TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese prosecutors last week issued a warrant for a Singaporean couple for the murder of their baby, but a request for DNA has been rejected by the Singaporean authorities.
On Feb. 16, the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office issued a warrant for a 25-year-old male surnamed Wang (王) and a 26-year-old female surnamed Kuo (郭) for homicide and infanticide. However, the Singaporean authorities that same day rejected a request for the couple's DNA due to the ongoing Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
According to prosecutors, Wang and Kuo arrived in Taipei on Feb. 19, 2019, ostensibly for a "holiday." Staff at the hotel they stayed at in Wanhua District's Ximending area said when the couple first checked in, Kuo's abdomen was enlarged, and she appeared to be pregnant.
However, when the couple checked out on Feb. 26, Kuo's stomach had "suddenly disappeared," and she appeared weak.
Early on the morning of Feb. 26, the body of the baby girl was found in a plastic bag in a kitchen waste bucket in New Taipei City's Xindian District as an employee sorted through waste collected from across greater Taipei. The worker immediately notified the New Taipei Police, who said the umbilical cord and placenta were still intact and that the baby appeared to have been disposed of shortly after birth.
After reviewing surveillance footage of the garbage truck's route, police deduced that the baby had been disposed of in Ximending. Video of the area showed a man tossing the black plastic bag that contained the baby into a kitchen waste container at around 4:00 a.m.
Police then tracked the man's movements and identified the suspects as Wang and Kuo. However, when police tried to contact the couple, they found the two had already returned to Singapore at 4 p.m. on Feb. 26.
When contacted by the Taiwanese police, the parents of the couple said they were unaware of the pregnancy but confirmed the pair had traveled to Taiwan for a holiday. Wang's parents said that if the allegations were proven, he would have to face the consequences of his actions but that they would seek to prove his innocence if the allegations were unfounded.
Police suspected that Kuo had given birth in the hotel, as they found traces of blood in the bathroom. On March 3, 2019, the DNA analysis of the bloodstains was compared with the DNA of the deceased infant, and they were found to be a match.
On Feb. 17 of this year, the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office told the Straits Times that they have "enough objective evidence" to find the couple guilty of the alleged crimes. The newspaper cited attorney Thong Chee Kun from Rajah & Tann as observing that although Singapore does not have an extradition agreement with Taiwan, the authorities could request "assistance from the Singapore police in obtaining evidence or conveying the couple to Taiwan if they [consent] to go there."
Forensic analysis of the baby's remains determined that it was delivered alive and had died from "unnatural causes," possibly suffocation in a plastic bag. Prosecutors have charged the couple with homicide, the biological mother has been charged with infanticide, and a warrant has been issued for the arrest of both.
The Singaporean authorities have rejected a request by Taiwanese prosecutors for the DNA of the couple on the grounds that the coronavirus pandemic is "still raging," reported Apple Daily.
If the baby had been discarded while she was still alive, Wang would have committed the crime of homicide under Article 271 of the Criminal Code (刑法), which is punishable by the death penalty, life imprisonment, or prison sentence of up to 10 years. As for Kuo, she may have committed infanticide as the biological mother (生母殺嬰罪, neonaticide), which under Article 274 of the Criminal Code is punishable by between six months and five years in prison.