Vietnam baby trade trial opens
Nine people, including government and hospital officials, have gone on trial in Vietnam accused of selling nearly 200 babies for illegal adoption abroad.
The majority of the infants aged under one year were bought from poor farming families and provincial hospitals and then allegedly sold to foreigners who believed they were paying for adoption procedures.
Adoption brokers would approach poor families and young mothers who had just given birth offering their babies a home at a local orphanage.
The parents subsequently discovered that their children were surreptitiously offered for adoption abroad in countries that included France, the United States and Canada.
Some 199 babies were reportedly sold with a total profit of $112,000.
The principal defendants are Le Quoc Binh, who brokered the adoptions between 1995 to 1997, and Bui Van Khanh, population registrar in the southern province of An Giang.
An earlier trial in May, in which 11 people were accused, was halted to allow prosecutors to gather more evidence.
Trafficking in babies has been rising sharply, especially in southern Vietnam, where racketeers sell the infants to Europeans and Australians.
However, adoption of Vietnamese children by foreigners is legal provided they are bona fide orphans, or are adopted with the written consent of the mother of the child.
France, which has seen an average of 1,200 Vietnamese children adopted each year, suspended all new adoption applications in May to allow judicial authorities from both countries to establish a convention clarifying adoption procedures.
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