Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Shocking True Story Behind Netflix’s ‘The Asunta Case’

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Netflix’s new investigative thriller, The Asunta Case, recently arrived on the streaming platform. The miniseries unravels one of the most shocking true crimes committed in Spain. Discover what happened to Asunta Fong Yang in real life, including the fate of her adoptive parents.

In The Asunta Case, a wealthy couple from Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Rosario Porto and Alfonso Basterra, adopted a baby girl named Asunta Fong Yang from China in 2001. Twelve years later, when they report her missing, the authorities initially suspect a kidnapping. As the investigation unfolds, the couple is arrested for her murder, causing shockwaves throughout the country. Candela Peña and Tristán Ulloa star in the gripping drama that’s quickly risen to the No. 2 spot in the U.S. on Netflix.

The Asunta Case was created by Ramón Campos, Gema R. Neira, Jon de la Cuesta, and David Orea. Campos also directed the 2017 documentary about the case, El caso Asunta: Operación Nenúfar (originally named Lo que la Verdad Esconde: El Caso Asunta).

All six episodes of the The Asunta Case are now streaming on Netflix. As you watch the drama, learn about the real-life case that inspired the show.

Is The Asunta Case On Netflix A True Story?

Yes, The Asunta Case is based on the real-life murder of 12-year-old Asunta Fong Yang. After her adoptive parents reported her missing, Yang’s body was discovered on the side of the road, and her parents were arrested shortly after.

In June 2001, Rosario Porto, a lawyer from northern Spain, and her husband Alfonso Basterra, a freelance journalist from Basque country, went to China to adopt a baby, Asunta Fong Yang. The adoption didn’t raise any red flags, as the couple came from an upper-middle-class background. Porto’s father served as honorary consul for France, and her mother was an art historian at the University of Santiago, according to The Guardian.

Two weeks later, they brought their baby girl home to Santiago. As she grew older, it became apparent that Asunta was intellectually gifted. She skipped an academic year by the time she was in secondary school. “Well-handled, they are a good thing,” Porto told friends after reading up on gifted children, the site reported. “But they can be a problem.”

Asunta was also enrolled in private English, French, and Chinese classes and studied German at school. She already spoke Spanish and Galician. She also took private ballet, violin, and piano classes, but The Guardian noted that she often demanded some of these classes herself. “She got up at 7am, did Chinese from 8 until 10, came to ballet from 10.15 to 12.30, then did French until lunchtime. And then there was violin and piano,” Asunta’s ballet teacher, Gail Brevitt, told the site.

In 2009, Asunta’s mother Porto was experiencing mental health struggles. She spent two nights in a private psychiatric hospital where she said she felt suicidal, apathetic, and guilty. Porto discharged herself after two days and only returned for one of the regular checkups scheduled, per The Guardian. Two years later, in September 2013, Asunta resumed her studies after a summer holiday with her nanny in her home village. Her parents stayed nearby in Santiago at their beach apartment, only spending one week of those six weeks with their daughter.

At the time, Porto was struggling with the deaths of her mother and father, who both died within the two years prior. She and Basterra also suddenly divorced in early 2013; Porto had an affair with a successful businessman named Manuel García, and when Basterra found out, their marriage fell apart, The Guardian reported. In June of that year, Porto had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized again.

Basterra rushed to his ex-wife’s bedside and helped her return home. They shared meals at his place, and he even thought they might move back together. As for Asunta, she continued with her studies and extra curriculars. The night before her death on September 21, 2013, Asunta and her mother ate lunch at her father’s apartment, played a game of cards, and watched an episode of The Simpsons.

What Happened To Asunta Fong Yang?

Asunta Fong Yang’s lifeless body was discovered on September 22, 2013. She was laying on a bed of pine needles wearing grey sweatpants stained with mud, with one arm half-inside a matching top and a white T-shirt pulled above her stomach, according to The Guardian.

Police already knew who the victim was because, before the discovery, Porto and Basterra went to the Santiago police station to report their daughter missing. The police record stated that Asunta was left at her mother’s apartment doing her homework until 7:00 p.m. while Porto went to the family’s country house — located about 20 minutes away from where the body was found. When Porto returned at 9:30 p.m., she said that Asunta had disappeared.

The couple told police that earlier in the summer, Porto was woken by Asunta screaming and she allegedly saw a man dressed in black with latex gloves bending over her daughter. Porto said she consulted the police then but decided not to issue a formal report. Strangely, she did not inform any of her neighbors of the incident, making it even more suspicious to authorities.

Eventually, Porto was arrested at Asunta’s funeral. Although there wasn’t any physical evidence linking Porto to the crime, police found CCTV camera footage of Porto. The video showed the mother driving the family car on a route toward their country house with “a long-haired girl” sitting beside her. The timecode on the footage was taken when Porto claimed that Asunta was at home.

Additionally, forensic scientists tested Asunta’s blood and urine and found highly toxic levels of lorazepam — the main active ingredient in the Orfidal pills Porto was taking for her anxiety attacks, according to The Guardian. Because officials thought it was unlikely that Porto could carry out the murder alone, Judge Taín ordered the arrest of Basterra one day after his ex-wife.

What Happened To Rosario Porto and Alfonso Basterra?

Two years after Rosario Porto and Alfonso Basterra’s arrest, the prosecution presented their case before a jury on October 1, 2015. During the trial, Porto was unable to explain why she lied about her movements on the day of Asunta’s death.

Niether Basterra nor Porto could also give a reason about why Basterra had obtained over 170 Orfidal (or lorazepam) pills over ten weeks and why there were 27 pills worth of lorazepam in Asunta’s body, according to The Guardian. Some of the pills were purchased legally with his wife’s prescription, some with his prescription (after lying to his doctor), and others without a prescription at all.

Teachers at the two music academies said that in the months before Asunta’s death, they recalled that she could not read her sheet music or walk straight. “I took some white powders,” Asunta told Isabel Bello, who ran one of the academies. “I don’t know what they are giving me. No one tells me the truth,” Asunta told her violin teacher, per The Guardian.

A 15-year-old acquaintance of Asunta also claimed to have seen her in the street with her father on the day of the crime, when he previously said he was alone at home.

Porto and Basterra were each sentenced to 18 years in prison. Although both appealed to have their convictions overturned, Porto died by suicide in her prison cell in 2020, according to the Madrid Metropolitan, after multiple suicide attempts while in prison. Basterra is currently serving his sentence at the Teixeiro prison in Spain.

The Asunta Case is streaming on Netflix. Watch the official trailer below.

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