Romania: Israeli physicians arrested on suspicion of egg trafficking
Father, son who run Sabyc Medical Center in Bucharest arrested for allegedly trafficking in human eggs, stem cells; both remanded for 29 days. Romanian authorities order two other Israeli doctors not to leave country, confiscate passports of five other Israelis involved
Romanian authorities have remanded Harry and Yair Miron, the Israeli owners of the Sabyc Medical Center, a fertility clinic in Bucharest, who are suspected of trafficking in human eggs, for an additional 29 days.
Two other Israeli doctors, who are considered persons of interest in the case, were forbidden from leaving Romania at this time. Five other Israelis suspected as involved in the case have has their passports confiscated by the Romanian police.
Romanian authorities detained 30 of the clinic's employees Sunday for allegedly trafficking in human eggs and human stem cells. The majority were questioned and released within hours, but several were detained further, missing their flights to Israel.
On Monday, the Bucharest court ordered Harry and Yair Miron, the father and son team who own and operate the clinic, remain in police custody for an additional month.
Professor Nathan Levitt and Dr. Genya Ziskind, clinic employees who were also detained by the local authorities, were ordered not to leave Romania pending further investigation. Both are expected to be questioned by the Romanian police once again on Tuesday.
Romanian police forces at the clinic (Photo: AFP)
The Romanian authorities alleged that the clinic took advantage of poor woman, who donated eggs in exchange for a fee – an action which is illegal in Romania. One of the women reportedly told the Bucharest police that she had no idea that the act was against the law and that she did it because she was desperate for money.
"The group was focusing on identifying foreign couples eager to resort to reproduction techniques and on grabbing Romanian (women) aged 18-30 to donate ova (eggs) for $270 to $335," the department for fighting organized crime (DIICOT) said in a statement.
Vladimir Belis, vice president of the Romanian medical control board Colegiul Medicilor said that the clinic "managed to use poor women from all over the country… these women underwent medical procedures which put their health – and even their lives – in danger. This act has been illegal in Romania since 1998."
According to reports in the Romanian media, Bucharest authorities also questioned several Israeli women suspected of selling their eggs.
Victor Zotta of Romania's National Transplant Agency told local press that the Sabyc Clinic was operating illegally and that it has been under similar suspicion in 2002.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yossi Levy told Ynet that the ministry and the Israeli Embassy in Bucharest have been fully briefed on the case and are keeping in constant contact with Romanian police and judicial authorities, adding that Consul General Lilly Ben Harush was doing everything possible in order to bring the case to a swift solution.
Ahiya Raved contributed to this report