Japanese man 'fathers' 9 surrogate babies
THAI police and soldiers found nine babies thought to have been fathered by a Japanese man in a raid at a Bangkok condominium, sparking fears that illegal surrogacy is being misused to produce stem cells.
Recent raids have been triggered by the case of baby Gammy, who was borne by a Thai surrogate mother and allegedly abandoned by his Australian parents because he has Down syndrome. The couple took his twin sister back to Australia.
Former Thai social development and human security minister Pavena Hongsakul, who initiated the raid on Tuesday, feared that in the worst-case scenario, this "surrogacy-for-hire" case may be related to the potentially fatal extraction of foetal fluid to provide stem cells.
There were three girls and six boys found in the Lat Phrao condominium. The Thai police said on Wednesday that DNA-based paternity checks were under way.
According to the police, neighbours became suspicious as they heard the cries of multiple babies coming from the apartments owned by the Japanese man.
Meanwhile, the police are questioning a lawyer representing the unnamed Japanese man. They are also talking to seven nannies hired to take care of the infants, and a woman who is six months into her pregnancy.
"My client is the father, but he has not made any profit from the 'surrogate' births," the lawyer told the Japanese media.
The attorney claimed that his client was wealthy but had no children, and wanted to have many children to leave his business and fortune to, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
Somboon Kunathikom, former chairman of the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said the latest discovery was suspicious because children borne through surrogacy were usually adopted almost immediately by couples who foot the hospital bills.
Meanwhile, the Australian authorities said yesterday that they had finally contacted a man exposed as a convicted paedophile at the centre of the Gammy scandal.
Australia gave no details about the nature of the discussion with the couple or the welfare of the baby girl.
The biological father has three adult children, and one of them said he was a changed man since spending time in jail for the sex convictions.
"I can tell you how good a father my dad was towards us. He's amazing. He's brought the best out of all of us kids," the son, who did not want to be named, told Fairfax Media.
AFP, THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK