x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

No new leads in case of aborted foetus found on Etihad flight

An investigation continues, a year after a foetus was found on a Manila-bound flight.

ABU DHABI // Police in the Philippines have failed to make any headway in their investigation into a foetus abandoned on an aircraft flying from Abu Dhabi to Manila.

The male foetus, which was at five to six months' gestation, was found in the bin of the rear lavatory on an Etihad Airways aircraft after it landed in Manila at 9.55pm on January 3, 2011.

"I went inside the plane but there were no traces of blood on any of the seats," said Simon Respicio, a Pasay City senior police investigator in Metro Manila. "I can't hold the passengers inside the aircraft. It's against the law and would inconvenience passengers taking the next flight back to Abu Dhabi."

When the police received a list of passengers who had travelled on Etihad flight EY428, they sent letters to each and invited them to visit the police station.

"But no one replied or showed up," said Mr Respicio. "We can't force them. They do not have any interest in the case, and why would the mother own up to her actions?"

Last year, Senior Supt Napoleon Cuaton, then the Pasay City police chief, who led the investigation, said there were 165 women among the 246 passengers. He said officers were working on the case with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Philippine government agency that oversees migrant workers. Police sent a list of the Filipina passengers to the OWWA to verify where they had been deployed to work. The plan was for social welfare attaches at the respective embassies to conduct a social investigation in the workplace, according to Senior Supt Cuaton.

Once the mother is identified, she will be questioned about the circumstances around the incident, he said. She could face homicide charges if she intentionally aborted.

James Mendiola, an OWWA welfare officer in Abu Dhabi, said he had not received an official request from Manila to assist in the police investigation.

"We have not decided to close the case yet," Mr Respicio said. "We know that it's been a year since it happened but we'll wait for an eyewitness to come forward."

rruiz@thenational.ae