|Dutch couple remanded in Sri Lanka over baby smuggling
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|Author:||Percy [ Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:56 am ]|
|Post subject:||Dutch couple remanded in Sri Lanka over baby smuggling|
Dutch couple remanded in Sri Lanka over baby smuggling
Sri Lanka has put in place a lengthy legal process to screen adoptions by foreigners and it takes months before a child is allowed to leave the country. Colombo police officials said the couple allegedly were prepared to pay a large sum to complete the adoption, and had intended to smuggle the child from Sri Lanka to the Netherlands.
Source @ Lakbima/ LBO / AFP / 03 August 2007
COLOMBO, Aug 3, 2007 - A Dutch couple has been detained in custody for another two weeks following their arrest nine days ago for trying to illegally adopt an infant, officials said Friday.
The couple, Susan and Jansz, who appeared before the Colombo Chief Magistrate Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena on Friday, were to be questioned later in the day by police, court officials said.
The couple was arrested July 27 on charges of trying to adopt a two-week old baby illegally.
The judge ordered that the couple be held on remand until August 16 giving more time for investigators to probe the allegation of illegal adoption of a two-week old baby. They have yet to be formally charged.
Meanwhile, the baby at the centre of the controversy is spending its nights in prison. “She is being looked after in the women’s ward at Welikada prison,” said Inspector Indrani Abeygunasekara of the National Child Protection Authority.
Initial investigations reveal that the couple had paid at least one million rupees to several people to buy the baby and to obtain a falsified birth certificate.
They had offered more money to have the baby’s name listed in Susan’s passport, IP Indrani said.
Among those who had allegedly accepted payment was Asoka Wijendra, the female lawyer who had provided “legal advice” to the couple. She is the wife of a superintendent of police. A doctor at the Kalutara prison and a doctor at Nagoda hospital are also being probed.
There were histrionics when the suspects were first produced before Colombo Chief Magistrate Sarojini Kusala Weerawardana. “The judge was very tough and ordered us to arrest anybody else involved in this case,” IP Indrani said.
“The foreign woman started wailing loudly and emotions ran high inside the courtroom. She said she can’t give up the child. She insisted that the baby was hers and even showed that she was lactating. According to our investigations, she had taken hormone injections for this purpose before arriving in Sri Lanka.”
The magistrate directed the prisons medical officer to examine Susan to determine whether she had delivered the baby.
The story broke earlier in the week when an anonymous caller told NCPA Chairman Jagath Wellawatte that a foreign couple in Moragolla, Aluthgama, was plotting to take a baby out of Sri Lanka with the purpose of selling its internal organs.
The NCPA police team who went to investigate found Jansz cradling the baby at a Moragolla hotel. He claimed the baby was his girlfriend, Susan’s, and that she had conceived a child with a Sri Lankan man during a previous visit to the country. He also said she had returned to Sri Lanka to deliver the baby and they were now taking the child back to the Netherlands. Susan arrived at the scene shortly afterwards and started insisting loudly that the child was hers. She produced a birth certificate that declared the baby’s parents to be Susan and Jansz. “But we were suspicious because the skin colour of the child was very dark,” IP Indrani said.
“Also, the space on the birth certificate where the child’s name was entered had been Tippexed once.”
Further investigations revealed that a former SLFP provincial councillor named Ranjith Kaluperuma had arranged the sale of the baby to the Dutch couple through several intermediaries. Also known as ‘Burgher Mahattaya’, Kaluperuma had himself been arrested and charged with sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy. This case is still being heard in courts.
Susan had later admitted that Kaluperuma was one of the main players in the attempted crime and that he had accepted payment from her. She also said that he had initially shown her pictures of himself with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to win her confidence. He also had in his possession posters depicting himself with the President.
Investigations also revealed that the Moragolla Tourist Police had summoned the couple for questioning after an anonymous caller tipped 119. However, he had let them go after they claimed the child was theirs.
Meanwhile, the baby was found to be the child of a prostitute working at a brothel near the Moragolla Tourist Police headquarters. She had agreed to sell the child for a fee of Rs 100,000 but later told police that she had only been paid Rs 60,000 by the intermediaries.
Sri Lanka has put in place a lengthy legal process to screen adoptions by foreigners and it takes months before a child is allowed to leave the country.
Over 10,000 children were adopted between 1991-2005, according to Sri Lanka's department of probation and childcare, of which foreign adoptions account for about a fifth.
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