Taiwan probes mum for abuse after girl, 8, who weighed just 8kg, allegedly starves to death

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwanese police are investigating abuse claims after an eight-year-old girl who weighed just 8kg was allegedly starved to death, investigators said on Friday.

The girl's mother, identified only by her family name Hsu, took the child to hospital late last month, saying she had stopped breathing after hitting her head in the bath.

The child, who had bedsores and minor bruises around her eyes, died in hospital after emergency treatment failed to revive her. The hospital reported the suspected abuse to the police.

The girl was suffering from severe malnutrition, the police said. Her weight was that of an average one-year-old, roughly one-third that of a normal eight-year-old, while she was also much shorter for her age, at just 90cm tall.

Suspicions of abuse were further aroused after it was found that the girl had never gone to school, and had not sought any medical treatment since she was vaccinated at two years old, when she weighed 6kg.

In a front-page story, the Apple Daily newspaper cited medical examiners as saying the girl was as thin "as a skeleton", and that some funeral home workers were in tears after seeing her body.

Hsu denied abusing her child and said she planned to send the girl to school after she got healthier, according to the the police.

She could face a maximum life sentence if convicted of a charge of abuse leading to death.