Vietnam police to file charges against woman for stealing newborn

By Thanh Nien Staff, Thanh Nien News

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Le Thi Bich Tram, 25, faces charges of trafficking children after she allegedly stole a newborn baby from a public hospital in January to sell for money to clear her husband's gambling debts
A woman who allegedly stole a baby from a Ho Chi Minh City hospital and claimed she wanted it for her own after a miscarriage trafficked it to clear her husband's gambling debts, the police said.
The District 7 police said they found that Le Thi Bich Tram, 25, who had made off with a newborn baby from the District 7 General Hospital in January, had sold it.
Based on her tip-off, they busted a ring trafficking babies and arrested seven people, online newspaper Dan Tri reported Saturday.
The police said they are pursuing a charge of child trafficking against Tram, which carries a life sentence.
She told them she got married in April 2013 when her husband was mired in debt and she was unemployed after quitting her job.
She got acquainted with Pham Tuan Phuong, 52, a xe om (motorbike taxi) driver, who asked her to introduce him people who wanted to sell newborns.
He said he would find people who wanted to buy them.
On January 8 she visited the post-delivery ward of the hospital and approached Nguyen Thi Minh Tam, 40, who had given birth to a boy earlier that day.
The next morning, when Tam was in the restroom and her husband had left for home, Tram kidnapped the baby.
After getting out of the hospital, she took a motorbike taxi -- and kept changing them to cover her trail -- to her parents-in-laws' house in Binh Chanh District.
The police, who got a likeness of her published in the media and were tipped off by her neighbors, raided her house on January 13, rescued the baby and took her in.
Initially she told them that she kidnapped the baby because she had had a miscarriage last year.
She had not told her husband and his family about the loss fearing they would think she had lied about the pregnancy to force him into the wedding.
When the ostensible delivery day arrived, she left for her parents' home.
After stealing the baby, she went to her parents-in-laws' house, claiming it was her baby.
The police did not say how she had managed to keep them away from the hospital where she claimed to have delivered.
Tram’s story in the media evoked much sympathy, even from Tam and her family, who said they would withdraw the complaint against Tram and let her become the child’s adoptive parent.
The police said they arrested Phuong and six others who also face charges of “trafficking children.”
In related news, Col. Le Phuoc Truong, chief of the District 5 police, was quoted as saying by online newspaper VnExpress that his officers have arrested a woman who kidnapped a child from Hung Vuong Obstetrics Hospital Monday.
Huynh Thi Ngoc Thuy, 37, also claimed she stole the child because she had had a miscarriage last year.
She had pretended to be pregnant ever since since she lived with her boyfriend.
But there were many holes in her story, Truong said.
The police believed that she could have carried out the abduction only with inside help because it is impossible to bring a child out of the hospital’s main entrance without producing documents issued by the hospital, he said.
Thuy took the baby from Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, a 30-year-old woman with a developmental disability, when her mother had gone out to buy food.
Earlier she had approached Thao’s mother and chatted with her for a few hours.
On Wednesday Thuy and her husband went to the hospital to return the child and gave herself up to the police.
She said she was frightened after the abduction made media headlines and her facial and physical descriptions were reported.
A source told Thanh Nien that the city Department of Health would question Nguyen Van Truong, director of Hung Vuong, about the incident.
Health officials are considering punishing him for failing to inform them about it in time to enable quick action, the source said.
The Department of Maternity and Child Health has urged the Ministry of Health to order clinics to tighten security following the repeated kidnapping of children from hospitals, VnExpress reported.

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