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Posted: 6/21/2001 10:00:40 AM EST
Abandoned Swiss Toddler Buried By JONATHAN FOWLER, Associated Press Writer GENEVA (AP) - A toddler who died after being left alone in an apartment while police held her drug-addicted mother was buried Wednesday as one of Europe's richest cities agonized over how such a tragedy could occur. ``Everyone is responsible for this,'' said Maria-Fernanda Martins, one of 2,000 mourners at the funeral for 16-month-old Silvia, whose body was found by police in a bathroom after neighbors complained of a strange smell. ``But it's not normal that the authorities did nothing.'' The circumstances surrounding the child's death remain unclear, but her ordeal has sent shockwaves through Geneva - and across Switzerland. ``The Shame!'' read the headline of the weekly l'Illustre, which featured a photograph of the child. ``The disgrace of Geneva,'' said the mass-circulation Blick of Zurich over a front-page story describing the girl's ``torturous death'' from starvation and thirst. It said the girl prolonged her life by drinking water from the toilet. ``She was too small to reach the faucet.'' ``Why did Silvia have to die under such terrible circumstances - in Switzerland, where everything is so safe and well-ordered?'' the daily wrote, asking whether social workers, the police or the mother was to blame. Silvia was the daughter of Susana, a 22-year-old Portuguese migrant with a record for small-scale theft and drug addiction. Police have not released the family's last name. There were suggestions among the 30,000-strong Portuguese community, many of whom hold service jobs, that authorities didn't care enough about the biggest minority group in Geneva. ``People here will call the police if a dog barks in an apartment, but not if they hear a baby crying,'' said a Portuguese women who identified herself only as Maria. ``I didn't used to have anything against this country, but now I don't know.'' It wasn't until June 1 - three weeks after the mother's arrest - that police officers broke into a small studio apartment in Meyrin, a working-class district close to Geneva's airport, after neighbors complained about a strange smell. In the bathroom they made a shocking discovery: the decomposing corpse of a little girl. The mother was arrested May 8 after being accused of stealing a cellular phone. She was jailed after officers reportedly realized she had earlier been given a 44-day prison sentence for stealing two jackets, but had not been taken into custody. Susana reportedly told police a baby sitter was looking after her daughter and faces charges of abandonment and negligent homicide. She was allowed out of jail for her daughter's funeral, but avoided reporters by entering through the chapel's back door. Newspapers and magazines talked to several of the mother's acquaintances who said they thought another friend had taken the child - but did not check. A 16-month-old would not normally be expected to survive much longer than three days without food or water. An autopsy report showing Silvia survived for around 10 days suggests she may have been looked after by someone for at least part of her time alone. Amadeu Raimundo, from whom Susana allegedly stole the cellular phone, said he knocked on the door of the apartment after he tracked down her address. He didn't know the woman had been arrested, but heard a child crying and went to the local police station to tell officers he was worried.
Link Posted: 6/21/2001 10:01:15 AM EST
Geneva police have refused to comment, but the judge investigating the case has backed Raimundo's version of events. Welfare services are also accused of failing to try hard enough to find the sitter Susana claimed was looking after her daughter. The issue has even reached the Swiss parliament. Anne-Catherine Menetery-Savary, a left-of-center Green lawmaker, said during debate that the death showed Swiss law was flawed because not enough was done to keep arrested mothers and young children together. Jacques Barrillon, a Geneva lawyer, is representing the toddler's grandmother and hopes to replace Susana's court-appointed attorney. ``If the authorities turn out to have made mistakes then they will have to take responsibility for this tragic event,'' he said.
Link Posted: 6/21/2001 10:06:39 AM EST
That is horrible. Stupid swedes don't even check on a little girl crying. Police should have checked the apartment, people don't leave a child with a baby sitter for more then a day. The police should have checked to make sure anyway. [V]
Link Posted: 6/21/2001 10:10:07 AM EST
Originally Posted By JBR: That is horrible. Stupid swedes don't even check on a little girl crying. Police should have checked the apartment, people don't leave a child with a baby sitter for more then a day. The police should have checked to make sure anyway. [V]
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The people form Switzerland are called the Swiss. Like the pudding and hot cocoa.[:D]
Link Posted: 6/21/2001 10:41:57 AM EST
Originally Posted By JBR: That is horrible. Stupid swedes don't even check on a little girl crying. Police should have checked the apartment, people don't leave a child with a baby sitter for more then a day. The police should have checked to make sure anyway. [V]
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Geez, does it surprise anyone else that a New Yorker would blame the police for this? Or refer to the Swiss as Swedes?
Link Posted: 6/21/2001 11:43:52 AM EST
Hmmmmm... There's no mention of the child's father. I guess that shouldn't be surprising. [:|]
Link Posted: 6/21/2001 11:50:01 AM EST
Damn, and I was going to make the obligatory blond joke. Not much to joke about the swiss, other than they are always on time (LOL).
Link Posted: 6/22/2001 2:02:47 PM EST
btt
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