MURDER CASE

Adoptive parents of Asunta Basterra begin trial for her murder

A tearful Rosario Porto insists on her innocence in the suffocating death of the 12-year-old

Rosario Porto testifies at her murder trial on Thursday.
Rosario Porto testifies at her murder trial on Thursday.lavandeira jr (EFE)

The adoptive parents of  Asunta Basterra began their trial for the 12-year-old’s murder on Thursday, at a court in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia. Rosario Porto and her ex-husband Alfonso Basterra are accused of drugging and suffocating the Chinese girl in 2013.

Investigators believe that the parents had planned for months on killing their daughter

Asunta’s body was found close to the family’s country home, located near Santiago, on September 21, 2013. Investigators believe that her parents had spent months planning on killing the child, who was born Yong Fang and had arrived in Galicia when she was aged just one year old. No clear motive for the killing, however, has yet been established.

Since the girl’s body was found, the high-profile investigation has been in the media spotlight partly due to her mother’s profile – she was a a lawyer and former honorary French consul, and was well known in Santiago’s society circles – as well as Basterra’s job as a journalist.

Asunta Basterra, in a photo from her blog.
Asunta Basterra, in a photo from her blog.

Since her arrest in late 2013, Porto has given investigators conflicting accounts about the girl’s whereabouts during the days before she was killed. Asunta’s adoptive mother has always insisted that she is innocent, something she repeated during her day-long testimony on Thursday. “We did what we could as parents,” she told the court. “Asunta was my only concern.”

The prosecution presented the court with a report from a home security company that supports the investigators’ conclusion that someone was in the family’s country home in Teo – where authorities believed that the girl was murdered – days before Asunta’s death.

The report also showed that someone had switched off the alarm system around the approximate time of Asunta’s murder.

Porto said she didn’t know who it could have been: “It was not me, of course,” she told the court.

Among the evidence against the parents is forensic analysis showing that before her death Asunta had been drugged with Orfidal, which contains the powerful drug Lorazepam. The medication, which is used to treat anxiety, was taken by Porto regularly.

“I have never given Orfidal to my daughter,” the accused told the court on Thursday. “And nor had Alfonso. He might have done so when I went to the bathroom, but he didn’t give Orfidal to his daughter, it doesn’t make any sense.”

More information
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Analysis of the victim’s hair revealed that Asunta had been ingesting Orfidal for months. The day that she died, investigators concluded, she had been given a toxic dose, an amount that would have left her completely helpless and unable to fight back against her assailant. “If the tests say so, she must have been given Orfidal,” Porto told the court on Thursday. “But my hair tests said that I’d been taking Orfidal since February and I had only started taking it in July,” she continued.

Porto and her ex-husband are the only suspects to have been charged in the case. Basterra is expected to testify next.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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