Sixteen prosecuted for selling children

NAM DINH — The People’s Court of Nam Dinh Province has put 16 people on trial for allegedly selling 266 babies for foreign adoption.

Heads of two social welfare centres in Nam Dinh Province, 13 doctors and nurses at communal clinics, and the owner of a noodle-soup restaurant went o­n trial yesterday.

It was alleged that Tran Thi Luong, former head of the culture bureau and director of a centre for children with difficulties in Y Yen District; and Vu Dinh Khan, head of Viet Hung Communal Clinic and director of a social welfare centre in Truc Minh District, solicited infants from different sources.

They are also alleged to have falsified documents claiming the infants had been abandoned at communal clinics, making them eligible for adoption.

The defendants are charged with "abuse of power and authority".

The other 14 defendants are accused of collecting the babies and falsifying documents before sending them to the two centres. Each member of the ring received between VND5 million (US$279) and up to 10 times that amount, according to the indictment.

The accused are alleged to have been in league with 39 communal clinics in Nam Dinh Province’s seven districts. The police have put out a warrant for three others who fled when the ring was busted.

The ring is alleged to have sent 266 babies for foreign adoption with falsified documents from 2005 to July 2008, when the activity was discovered.

Foreign adoption requires a multitude of steps and procedures and the examination and approval of various offices, such as Justice Department, provincial police and provincial People’s Committee.

However, individuals and offices from commune to province levels claimed they did not know the documents they handled were false, so they were not accused.

Two officials who took responsibility for verifying the documents were charged with failing to act responsibly. o­ne was suspended from work and the other reprimanded.

Adoption ring

In Central Highland Lam Dong Province, two managers of an orphanage were also arrested o­n charges of illegally selling children to individuals who wanted to adopt them.

The provincial Department of Public Security said Nguyen Van Manh, who claimed to be the head of the Tia Sang Orphanage, and Tran Van Huu, manager of Tia Sang, were arrested o­n September 18.

The facility has been closed by the People’s Committee of Bao Loc town, and the remaining children have been transferred to other orphanages, the Phu Nu (Women) Newspaper reports.

Police also charged Manh and Huu with cutting funds from the orphanage budget allocated for kids’ meals and other activities.

Caretakers at the orphanage said many orphans were malnourished and ill because of a lack of food.