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Belarusian Court Convicts Woman Of Manslaughter In Daughter's Death After Home Birth

Olga Stepanova is seen in the defendant's cage in a courtroom in Vitsebsk.
Olga Stepanova is seen in the defendant's cage in a courtroom in Vitsebsk.

VITSEBSK, Belarus -- A court in Belarus has convicted a woman of unintentional manslaughter in the death of her newborn child, who died after a home birth.

At a hearing on December 7, a court in the eastern city of Vitsebsk found Olga Stepanova guilty and sentenced her to six months in a colony settlement, a penitentiary in which convicts live close to an industrial facility or a farm where they work.

But Stepanova has spent four months in pretrial detention and the judge ruled that the last two months of her sentence should be replaced by an order not to leave Vitsebsk.

Stepanova, who lives in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, arrived at her mother's home in Vitsebsk last autumn and gave birth to a daughter there on February 17.

Stepanova says she noticed that the baby was not breathing and asked her mother to call an ambulance.

Her daughter was pronounced dead at the hospital. Doctors say the baby died of asphyxiation by amniotic fluids.

Before the child was born, Stepanova refused in written form to give birth to her child in a medical institution.

She was arrested on May 5 and charged with unintentional manslaughter.

Belarusian laws do not prohibit home births.

Stepanova, 31, has a 2-year-old daughter who was delivered at home.

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