Investigators in Moscow have filed charges against a number of doctors at a medical center in the Russian capital, alleging that they ran a secret off-the-books scheme to sell almost a dozen babies from the clinic to shadowy men.
A lawyer representing the doctors, one of whom is the head of the reproductive health facility, outlined the accusations his clients are facing in comments to TASS on Friday. “According to the final accusation, the defendants in the case are charged with 11 episodes of the sale of children, of which eight, according to the investigation, have been completed, and in three cases they allegedly failed to complete the crime.”
“As the investigators established, under the guise of infertility treatment, the accused made illegal use of assisted reproductive technologies and, in exchange for a reward, handed over the children to the buyers, violating the foundations of law and order and morality,” he said.
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According to the indictment, the clients included single men “who had no clear reasons for needing to use assisted reproductive technologies,” such as those on offer at the clinic. It went on to reveal that the prices agreed for the sale of the babies was determined by their gender and the characteristics of the mother.
The doctors stand accused of paying surrogates, selected especially for the role, to carry embryos formed in the lab from the sex cells of unknown donors. The children were apparently issued with sufficient documents to apply for citizenship overseas.
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The suspects in the case now face trial for human trafficking, given the apparent intention to allow buyers to take the babies overseas. Under Russian law, they can face up to 15 years in prison.
The Global Slavery Index points out that in 2015, the last year for which data is available, there were 285 cases of human trafficking identified by prosecutors. 202 were child victims or others intended for sexual exploitation.
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