Spanish couple jailed for killing adopted daughter
Rosario Porto speaks to judges at a court in Santiago de Compostela, on September 27, 2013.MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images

A separated Spanish couple were sentenced to 18 years in prison for drugging and suffocating their 12-year old daughter, who they adopted from China when she was less than a year old. Asunta Yong Fang Basterra Porto's body was found on a forest trail near the northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela in September 2013.

Her parents reported her missing a few hours before she was found but a nine-member jury in the northwestern region of Galicia unanimously agreed with the prosecution that the pair had conspired to kill their daughter and try and make it look like a random act of violence. They found the couple guilty of killing Asunta on 30 October.

On Thursday (12 November), the court sentenced former lawyer Rosario Porto, 46 and her ex-husband journalist Alfonso Basterra, 51, to 18 years jail each for the murder. Prosecutors had claimed that the murder was planned by both parents but carried out by the mother.

At the time of Asunta's death, the couple were separated but were raising their adopted daughter together. They were accused of giving the girl varying doses of the sedative Orfidal for several months to see how it works on her before giving a strong enough dose to knock her out so they could choke her to death with a rope.

During the trial, Asunta's violin teacher said that two months before the girl was found dead, she had been woozy and unable to play her instrument. An identical rope found together with the body at the forest, was also found at the country house owned by Porto.

The couple maintain their innocence and have said through their lawyers that they intend to appeal their convictions. Asunta's adoption when she was less than a year old drew media attention in Galicia as she was the first Chinese baby to be adopted in the area.

Her arrival was covered by a local television station in which the couple spoke of their joy in having her in Spain after undergoing a long and complicated process to adopt her. The subsequent murder and court trial drew international attention, especially in China.