Ditched kid: cops cover up

WELLINGTON - New Zealand police defended their handling of an abandoned toddler case yesterday.

WELLINGTON - New Zealand police defended their handling of an abandoned toddler case yesterday.

This after a two-day delay in finding the body of the girl's mother in the boot of a car outside the family home in Auckland. Police confirmed that the body was that of Anan Liu, 27, whose three-year-old daughter Qian Xun Xue was abandoned by her father at a railway station last Saturday.

Police had been searching for Liu since Monday, expressing fears for her safety, but waited two days to look inside the car parked outside her house.

"If there had been any suggestion a person was alive or near death in that vehicle, police would have taken a different approach," New Zealand assistant Commissioner Bob Pope said in Wellington.

Police blamed delays in getting search warrants for the decision not to search the car, which belonged to the child's father, 54-year-old magazine publisher Nai Yin Xue.

"We haven't had the keys for the vehicle. It's not just a matter of breaking the windows and getting in," Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Scott said.

The little girl was dubbed "Pumpkin" after the Pumpkin Patch brand of clothing she was wearing when she was found.

After abandoning his daughter in Melbourne, Xue caught a flight to Los Angeles, police said. Police in the US were now hunting for him.

Meanwhile, New Zealand authorities have fast-tracked a visa for Liu's mother, Liu Xiaoping, 53, to travel from China to be reunited with her granddaughter, who is in foster care in Australia. Xiaoping has said she wanted to care for her grandchild and return her to their home in China's Hunan Province. - Reuters

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