Estonian woman suspected of abandoning baby likely to remain in Moroccan jail until fall

  • 2024-05-03
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - An Estonian woman suspected of abandoning a newborn in Suure-Lahtru, western Estonia, and detained by police in Morocco in March will likely have to remain in jail there for another six months, the daily Postimees writes.

Maarja Germann, senior prosecutor at the West District Prosecutor's Office, reiterated that the woman's extradition is taking place on the principle of mutual cooperation between the Republic of Estonia and the Kingdom of Morocco. However, the cooperation is new for the authorities, as Estonia does not have an agreement with Morocco regarding the extradition of persons.

The prosecutor's office, in cooperation with the Police and Border Guard Board, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has delivered the necessary documents to Morocco through diplomatic channels, and in April it was confirmed to Estonia that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there had received them.

"The further speed of the extradition process already depends on the Moroccan judicial system and national legislation. In practice, it is completely normal that the entire extradition process until the handover of the person takes six months or more," Germann said, adding that it is nevertheless difficult to predict the length of the ongoing extradition process.

"Primarily because Estonia currently has no information on how quickly and in what form the Moroccan court will review Estonia's extradition request and the accompanying additional materials," she added,

While the processing of the extradition request is ongoing in the Kingdom of Morocco, the pre-trial proceedings in Estonia will continue, Germann said.

"All the collected evidence is analyzed and based on that it is decided which evidence needs to be collected or which actions need to be taken," she added.

On Feb. 5, the police received a report that the body of a newborn baby had been found in the village of Suure-Lahtru in Laane-Nigula municipality, Western Estonia. The body had been brought to the yard of a farmhouse by the dog of the family living on the property. 

The police then launched extensive searches on terrain and started collecting all sorts of other information. Through this information, and using DNA taken from the body of the newborn, they identified the potential mother of the child. The woman has been abroad in recent weeks. As a result of good police cooperation, Moroccan police detained the woman on March 9.

Kaido Koplas, head of the West Prefecture of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, said in March that a significant part of the investigation is still ahead.

"As long as we haven't been able to obtain statements from the woman, we cannot say what led to these tragic events and whether the woman herself may be a victim of a crime," the police chief said.

The prosecutor's office did not specify to the daily on Friday what situation or conditions the woman is currently in in the Moroccan prison.

The criminal proceedings initiated are being led by the West District Prosecutor's Office. The crime is currently being investigated under the section of the Penal Code dealing with infanticide. However, the qualification of the crime may change in the course of the proceedings depending on the circumstances that emerge.