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Pakistani adoptions: Woman cleared of misappropriation charges


Thursday, June 23, 2011, 10:19

Pakistani adoptions: Woman cleared of misappropriation charges

A woman who promised a couple to get them a girl for adoption from Pakistan in return for Lm5,500 has been acquitted of misappropriation charges.

Concetta Charles was charged by the police after they took action against Pakistani Shabbir Shafqat, who had taken care of the girl's adoption, and later admitted to faking her birth certificate for this to show she was 10, instead of a 16 years old.

The court heard that in November 2001, Alfred and his wife Antonia Grech had drawn up an adoption contract with Mrs Charles to adopt a six-year-old girl from Pakistan.

They agreed to pay Lm5,500 covering all medical expenses and medicine, as well as all legal, administrative, telephone and travelling expenses connected to the adoption. They paid a deposit of Lm3,000.

In 2002, Mrs Charles and her husband Dennis, a Pakistani-born Maltese national, hit the news in Pakistan when the Dawn Metropolitan reported that Mr Charles had admitted to smuggling children out of Pakistan to take them to Maltese couples.

In 2004, Mrs Charles informed the Grechs that the girl they had been going to adopt could not be brought to Malta but they could instead adopt a 10-year-old girl.

She showed them her photo and although Mrs Grech got the impression that the girl was older than 10, the Grechs accepted to adopt her.

The relevant documentation was settled and in July 2004, Mrs Charles introduced the couple to Mr Shafqat and informed them that he would continue to see to their girl's adoption.

In August that year, the accused and Grech signed an extension to the original contract and made another payment of Lm930.

They were informed by the accused they could buy the air tickets as the child was ready to come over.

However, Mr Shafqat had visa problems and the child and her mother could not come as he was holding their tickets and passport.

In correspondence with the Grechs, Mr Shafqat asked for $3,000 to get the child to Malta. The Grechs accepted as this was approximately the remainder of what they had agreed to spend.

The child arrived in Malta in November 2005 and was formally adopted by the Grechs.

The couple took the girl to meet Mrs Charles who seemed surprised at the girl's arrival.

Medical tests were then carried out to establish her age and these showed that she was around 16.

The couple reported the case to the police as it was clear that the girl's birth certificate indicating she was 10 was false.

The police took action against Mr Shafqat who admitted to the crime.

It was then that they also decided to accuse Mrs Charles of misappropriation of funds.

In her judgement, Magistrate Edwina Grima noted that the police had failed to prove that Mrs Charles used the money given to her for the girl's adoption for an ulterior motive.

They also did not prove that her intention was to use that money for something else.

2011 Jun 23