Authorities in Qatar say they have identified the parents of a baby girl who was dumped in a rubbish bin in an airport toilet, following weeks of investigation.
In a statement on Monday, the public prosecutions’ office also said it has filed criminal charges against an unspecified number of police officers at Hamad International Airport in the capital, Doha, after women said they were invasively searched there in early October.
The prosecutor said the mother, identified as holding “the nationality of an Asian country”, has left Qatar. It added that international efforts are under way to arrest “the fugitive convict” who faces “a maximum penalty of 15 years”.
“The mother, while leaving the country, threw the newborn infant in the trash can in one of the toilets in the Departures Lounge at the Airport and boarded the plane to her destination,” the statement said.
“The father of the infant admitted that he had a relationship with the infant’s mother, and that she had sent him a message and a photo of the newborn infant immediately after her birth.
“The letter included her saying that she had thrown [away] the infant she had given birth to and fled to her country. Examining the DNA of the defendants were identical to that of the infant.”
It was not clear what charges the father – also from an Asian country – faced. Qatar is a conservative Muslim country, where sex and childbirth outside of marriage are punishable by jail. The infant is in the care of Qatar’s authorities.
After the baby girl was found on October 2, airport officials ordered female passengers off several planes for physical examinations to check whether any of them might be the mother of the abandoned baby.
The women said they were taken off the planes and subjected to strip searches in an ambulance parked on the tarmac.
According to Australia’s foreign ministry, female passengers on 10 flights departing from Doha were forced to endure the examinations, including 18 women on a Qatar Airways flight to Sydney, 13 of whom were Australian and five of whom had other nationalities.
Citizens of the United Kingdom and New Zealand were also among the women subjected to invasive pelvic examinations at Qatar’s main airport, according to representatives of the two countries, who condemned the action as “completely unacceptable”. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne described the acts of the airport’s staff as “grossly disturbing” and “offensive”.
The Qatari pubic prosecutor’s office said on Monday that by ordering the searches, some airport employees had broken the law and could face penalties of a maximum of three years.
The employees acted “unilaterally … thinking that what they had done was within the law as they are Judicial Police Officers authorised in investigating the circumstances of the crime”, read the statement by the public prosecutor’s office.
It added the officers summoned medical staff to conduct “external examination” of female passengers. Australian officials have said the women were invasively searched.
Last month, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, who is responsible for security services, apologised in a tweet saying: “We regret the unacceptable treatment of the female passengers” at Doha airport.