Ikram B, who has lived in Spain for six years and is originally from Morocco, has been accused of asphyxiating two of her babies and trying to kill a third after becoming convinced they were possessed by the Djinn spirit, an evil force that appears in the Koran and affects infants under three months old with demonic possession.
She was also convinced that the family home was possessed, she told an interpreter when making her police statement, according to Spanish newspaper, El País.
A judge has ordered Ikram B to be remanded in custody at Zuera prison in Zaragoza on charges of parricide, or the killing of a close family member.
The mother has not been forthcoming with details since the death of her third and youngest child on November 21st, when, along with her mother-in-law, she arrived at the Fuentes Norte health centre in Zaragoza with the body of Sara, less than three months old, who had died of asphyxiation.
This was not the first time such an incident had occurred. In July 2011 another of the woman’s daughters, also three months old, died after suffering similar symptoms.
Police now believe that Ikram B also murdered this child although at the time it was ruled as sudden death. Doctors wanted to perform an autopsy, but the baby’s parents objected on religious grounds.
Suspicions were first raised in March 2013 when the mother arrived at a health centre with another of her children, this time a two-year-old, who showed the same symptoms: asphyxiation, poor colouring, and vomiting blood, which quickly alleviated when the child was given oxygen.
The girl spent a month in hospital and recovered, but paediatricians at the hospital had alerted the police of their suspicions after witnessing two similar cases.
The Aragon Violent Crimes Unit along with the Child Protection Unit immediately set to work, setting up 24 hour surveillance of the child and her parents while she was in hospital. Cameras were installed in the hospital room and a team of more than 15 police officers watched the family 24 hours a day for 30 days, to no avail.
When the child left hospital, authorities requested a psychological report be carried out on the mother and the child was taken into the care of Aragon Social Services.
One of the facts that drew the suspicions of doctors was the cold manner in which the mother reacted each time she brought a child to the hospital. She was indifferent to the fate of her children, reported El País.
Ikram B denies any wrongdoing and on Wednesday December 3rd pleaded not guilty before Judge Mercedes Terrer, who detained the woman on two counts of murder and one of attempted murder.