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Woman cleared of misappropriation over Pakistani adoption [2nd case]


Friday, June 24, 2011 by Waylon Johnston

Woman cleared of misappropriation over Pakistani adoption

A woman involved in bringing children for adoption over to Malta from Pakistan was yesterday acquitted of misappropriation for the second time in less than a month.

Conċetta Charles, 53, of Safi, who requested almost €13,000 a time for her service, had been charged with misappropriating the money from a couple in July 2005.

The couple contacted the police after the 10-year-old girl they had adopted turned out to be 16 years old following medical tests which proved that the birth certificates were, in fact, forged.

The magistrate, however, found that when it came to the law, given that she was charged with misappropriation, the police failed to show that she had in fact done something else with the money. They had also failed to prove that her intention was to take their money under false pretences.

Ms Charles has already been acquitted by an appeals court two weeks ago after it ruled that money she still owed to another couple for an adoption that never happened was not a criminal matter but one for the civil courts to thrash out.

Ms Charles and her Pakistani-born Maltese national, Dennis, started acting as an adoption agency in 2001 under the name of The New United Christian Foundation.

In 2003, their activity hit the headlines in Karachi after a newspaper, Dawn Metropolitan, reported that Mr Charles had admitted to smuggling children out of Pakistan to take

them to Maltese couples.

The newspaper said the Pakistani police in Gulshan-i-Iqbal in Karachi had received letters alleging there was a bungalow in the area where four boys and seven girls were kept after being smuggled out of state-run and private hospitals.

Mr Charles had been convicted and jailed for seven years by a Pakistani court. However, that conviction was overturned and he was acquitted by a Human Rights Commission.

About the same time as this case surfaced against her husband, Maltese couples who were unhappy with the couple’s service or had not yet got the child they had been promised started complaining to the authorities.

The couple in yesterday’s case had testified that Ms Charles told them the six-year-old girl they had been promised could not be adopted but that she had a 10-year-old girl and showed them a picture.

The couple’s immediate reaction was disbelief that the girl was in fact 10 because she looked older, but they took a leap of faith and agreed, the court heard.

At this time, Ms Charles had introduced them to a Pakistani man named Shabbir Shafqat who, behind her back, told them that if they paid him $3,000 he would be able to get the girl they wanted to Malta much quicker.

He had in fact made good on his promise and in November 2005, the girl arrived in Malta and they adopted her. However, after conducting medical tests it was proved that she was actually 16 years old and not 10.

They contacted the police and proceedings were initiated against Mr Shafqat who has since been sentenced, the court heard.

Magistrate Doreen Clarke said that according to law Ms Charles could not be found guilty of misappropriation because she had carried out her contractual duties and not used the money for anything else other than the adoption, a point the couple were both aware of.

2011 Jun 24