Mum who killed baby ‘thought it was tumour’

A 28-year-old Spanish woman accused of murdering her baby was freed last week when judges in Valencia heard that she suffered from a rare mental disorder known as 'pregnancy denial'.

Mum who killed baby 'thought it was tumour'
Sufferers of 'pregnancy denial' are unable to understand or accept that they are pregnant, or deal with the reality of giving birth. Photo of woman in tunnel: Shu

The court heard how a tragic series of events led to the death of a newborn baby girl to a woman known only as Alba.

Alba, then 26, had not known she was pregnant when she began to feel stomach pains on November 22nd, 2012. Her boyfriend went to the pharmacy to buy painkillers and returned to find that she was still suffering.

The couple called for an ambulance at 10am and Alba phoned a doctor, who told her not to move. Records showed that they called for an ambulance 23 times, plus twice to the Emergency ward of a local hospital,  but no-one came, despite their flat being just 300 metres from an ambulance station.

Alba, who was described by psychologists as "of below-average intellectual capacity" but who had graduated from high school and held a job, then smoked a cigarette to alleviate the pain.

At 2pm she started to bleed and her partner ran, shouting, into the local health clinic demanding to know why an ambulance had not been sent, according to Spanish daily El Pais.

Alba, meanwhile, had noticed "a lump" on her vagina that she believed to be "a tumour" like a friend of hers had recently suffered and tried to remove the "alien body" with a nail file.

She felt something fall onto the bed and saw the baby. When her partner arrived he cut the umbilical cord and wrapped the baby in a blanket. Emergency services arrived moments later to find the mother and child lying in a pool of blood on the bathroom floor.

The baby was still breathing but soon died despite the attention of the medics. A post-mortem found that it had suffered a punctured lung.

Police arrested the woman, believing that the injuries were evidence of "murderous intent" and no-one accepted Alba's story that she had been unaware of her pregnant condition.

But the court heard that she suffered from a rare mental illness, known as pregnancy denial, a "quasi-schizophrenic" condition in which a woman is unable to understand or accept that she is pregnant. Sufferers often have few visible physical signs of pregnancy.

When the baby arrives, sufferers are unable to accept the reality of the situation.

The Spanish prosecutor dropped murder charges and Alba was instead found guilty of involuntary manslaughter due to "diminished mental capacity" which left her "unable to act with necessary diligence."

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Spain church attack suspect to undergo psychiatric testing

The Moroccan suspect held in connection with a machete attack on two Spanish churches, killing a verger and badly injuring a priest, will undergo psychiatric testing, a court said Tuesday.

Spain church attack suspect to undergo psychiatric testing

The case is being handled by the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s top criminal court, with the judge in charge asking that “two doctors conduct a psychiatric evaluation of the suspect”.

The suspect, 25-year-old Yassine Kanjaa, was arrested at the scene after the attacks on two churches in the southern town of Algeciras last week.

The Audiencia Nacional said the psychiatric evaluation, which will be carried out by doctors from the court’s forensic department, would provide “information about the legal responsibility” of the “presumed jihadist”.

Prosecutors have opened a terror probe and, on Monday, the court remanded the suspect in custody without bail on murder and terrorism charges.

During the deadly incident on January 26th, the suspect entered San Isidro church and attacked its priest with a machete, leaving him seriously wounded before entering Nuestra SeƱora de La Palma.

There he attacked the verger and chased him out of the church where he killed him.

‘Targeted priests and infidels’

Court details released on Monday said the attacker had also injured three other people, including another Moroccan man whom he “considered an infidel” because he had renounced his faith.

It said Kanjaa’s actions could be “qualified as a jihadist attack directed at both priests who profess the Catholic faith, and Muslims who, according to the suspect, don’t follow the Koran”.

The court said the suspect fits the profile of a “self-indoctrinated terrorist who acts individually without direct ties to a specific terror group but operates in the name of jihadist philosophy”.

Last week, Spain’s left-wing government refused to rule out mental illness and the police have described him as “unstable”.

The court said Kanjaa became indoctrinated “rapidly” within the space of up to six weeks, citing witnesses as telling police that just before that, he “was drinking alcohol and smoking hashish”. Then he suddenly started listening “regularly to the Koran on his mobile phone”.

One of Kanjaa’s neighbours told AFP something similar on Friday, saying he had changed radically six weeks ago, growing a beard and wearing a long robe.

Officials have said Kanjaa was served with a deportation order last June but had no prior convictions and was not under surveillance.