The one-year-old baby who was smothered to death with a blanket.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Central District Attorney’s Office filed an indictment in the Lod District Court against an assistant working at a Petah Tikva daycare center for manslaughter and multiple offenses of abuse by a person of authority against a helpless person.
According to the indictment filed by attorney Meital Ilan, between the years 2016 and 2018, the defendant, Inna Skivenko – a 23-year-old temporary resident from Ukraine – worked as a kindergarten assistant at the Masha Vehadov preschool, taking care of a group of infants between the ages of 3 and 18 months. She is being charged with abusing the babies on various occasions while at work.
She is accused of shaking them, kicking them, slamming them hard against the floor, dragging them by force and covering their heads and bodies with blankets, thereby restricting their movement and ability to breathe.
In the case of one-year-old Yasmin Vinta, the defendant allegedly caused her death four weeks ago while putting her and another baby to sleep.
Security cameras showed her dragging the baby with one hand as the infant hung in the air, before throwing her hard onto the floor, with her face hitting a mat. The suspect then dragged another baby, laying him next to Vinta and throwing a thick blanket over both of them. The defendant was then seen in the video lying on top of them, using their bodies as a cushion for her upper body while watching something on her mobile phone.
According to the indictment, as the babies began to move under the blanket, the defendant increased the pressure she was placing on them, resting her head on them and forcibly preventing any attempt by Vinta to free herself and take her head out of the blanket.
Later, the defendant wrapped the blanket around the victim’s head and upper body without leaving any opening for her to breathe.
Then she lay down again on the backs of the babies as she watched something on her phone while wearing earphones.
For a few minutes, Vinta unsuccessfully tried to free herself. Only after some ten minutes did the defendant lift herself off the babies and untie the blanket from around the baby’s head and neck.
According to the indictment, when the defendant realized the baby was not responding, she covered her head with the blanket again and resumed looking at her phone. She remained covered with a blanket over her body and head for almost two hours until she was found dead by another assistant.
The State Prosecutor’s Office requested the continued detention of the accused until the end of the legal proceedings.
Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz has decided to close the preschool.
In a separate incident, Yediot Ahronot reported on Monday that a complaint was filed to police against the staff of a private kindergarten in Givatayim over suspicions of an attack on the infants under their care.
These tragic incidents come as parents are taking to the streets in Israel demanding that a law be passed to establish oversight of private daycare centers for newborns to three-year-olds. Such legislation was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in December. It then unanimously passed a preliminary vote by the Knesset, but has not yet progressed to a final vote.
To date, there is no oversight over private daycare centers – meaning that anyone who wants to open a center can do so without a license or any regulated standards of safety or supervision.
In contrast, public daycare centers are under the authority of the Labor and Social Services Ministry, which provides oversight and enforcement.
Only 23% of all children up to the age of three – about 600,000 children – are in supervised frameworks.
On Sunday, some 200 people protested at the government offices in Tel Aviv and in other locations across the country, and held a minute of silence in memory of Vinta.
The Facebook group “Fighting and Struggling for the Children” opened last week following Vinta’s death, garnering already over 30,000 members.
“We have come to the decision that enough is enough – we won’t be silent anymore!” wrote Natalie Buzaglo, the group’s founder and a mother of three.
“We are fighting for our children, we are fighting for the memory of Yasmin, we demand full oversight of every daycare center for children between [the ages of] zero and three, we demand closed-circuit cameras, we demand that assistants/nannies are examined for the roles [and] we demand that the punishment be increased on abusers!” she passionately posted. “All of us together will succeed in bringing about the change – because today is Yasmin, tomorrow is my child, yours, ours.”
The Knesset’s Ministerial Committee is due to vote on a bill to place security cameras in all institutions for children and others who are “helpless.”