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Romania: 30 Israelis detained in egg trafficking case
Local police raid fertility clinic in Bucharest suspected of involvement in trafficking human eggs, stem cells. Thirty Israelis arrested, most released on bail within hours while two remain in custody. One suspect's wife says clinc legit, 'this must be some mix-up'

Some 30 Israelis were detained in a fertility clinic in Bucharest, Romania Sunday under suspicion of involvement in human egg trafficking.

 

Ynet has learned that most of the detainees were questioned and released within hours, but two of them remained in custody and missed their flight back to Israel. The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem is in frequent contact with Romanian authorities, and the Israeli embassy in Bucharest is following the case closely.

 

According to reports in local media, large forces from a special police unit raided the Sabyc Medical Center, in a case that was dubbed the "human egg trafficking case".

 

Dozens of people were arrested in the raid, including some of the clinic's management, who were also questioned for trading human stem cells. It was also reported that Israeli women suspected of selling their eggs were questioned.

 

Director of the National Transplant Agency, Dr. Viktor Zota told a local news agency that the clinic was operating illegally. The clinic in question was involved in a similar affair in 2002.

 

So far, the names of the Israeli doctors suspected in the case have not been released, but the wife of one of those detained Sunday told Ynet, "The clinic has a permit for its activity and this is some kind of mix-up."

 

The woman said her husband was released from custody and that "it is possible that someone else in the clinic was involved in (the case)".

 

The medical center's website emphasizes the involvement of Israeli experts in its fertility treatments, and names doctors from Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva and the Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa.

 

An Italian specialist is also named alongside the Israeli doctors.

 

The Bnai Zion Medical Center was surprised to learn of the case and said it had no connection whatsoever to the affair. "This is a private clinic in Romania that hires the service of doctors from medical centers all over Israel."

 

Foreign Ministry following affair

In 2005, the Romanian Health Ministry filed a complaint with the Bucharest prosecution against the clinic. Dr. Miron Harry, the owner of the clinic, has denied the medical center's involvement in egg trafficking.

 

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem is keeping an eye on the new case, and Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yossi Levy told Ynet the embassy in Bucharest is in constant contact with local authorities, in order to end the affair swiftly.

 

Lilly Ben Harush, the consul general to Bucharest, was briefed with the details of the incident Sunday night and is also in touch with the local authorities.

 

Levy confirmed reports of the arrest of 30 Israelis arriving in the Romanian capital for medical treatment.

 

Most of the detainees were released on high bail, and the two that remained in custody and missed their flight back to Israel have hired lawyers who are working to have them freed.

 

The industry of trafficking Israeli women's eggs has been thriving in recent years, particularly in medical institutes abroad, since the law in Israel does not allow egg donation, with or without pay.

 

The process is therefore carried out in private clinics in Romania, Ukraine, Cyprus, Spain and other clinics throughout Europe.

 

Meital Yasur-Beit Or contributed to this report

 


First published: 20.07.09, 08:55
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