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China sentences orphanage director, nine others to prison for baby-trafficking
Updated: 2006-02-25 15:34

BEIJING (AP) _ A Chinese orphanage director and nine other people have been sentenced to prison for buying and selling scores of infants who were adopted by foreign parents, the government announced Saturday.

Another 22 officials were fired in the case in the southern city of Hengyang in Hunan province, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Police said the traffickers bought babies that had been abducted from their families and sold them to welfare homes in Hengyang for 3,200 to 4,300 yuan (US$400-US$540; euro320-euro430) each, the report said.

"The social welfare homes then had the infants adopted by foreigners who made donations," the report said.

It didn't give the nationalities of adoptive parents or say whether they were considered to have bought the babies.

The group carried on the trade from 2002 to 2005, and trafficked 78 babies in 2005 alone, Xinhua said.

Employees who answered the phone at the Qidong County People's Court, where the case was tried, said they couldn't give any other details or say whether authorities were trying to track down babies abroad. They wouldn't give their names.

Phone calls to the local prosecutor's office and the criminal division of the police department weren't answered.

China has a thriving black market in babies, often girls, abducted or bought from poor families or unwed mothers and sold to parents who want another child, a servant or a future bride for a son.

People involved with the adoption of Chinese children by foreigners have long worried that parents might unknowingly receive children who were abducted or stolen from their families.

They worry that baby-trafficking accusations could lead officials to limit or stop the process that has given homes to thousands of Chinese children who might otherwise grow up in orphanages.
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