x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Woman in Dubai is charged with buying a baby

An American woman is charged with buying a baby and trying to cover up the sale by claiming the infant was dumped on her doorstep.

DUBAI // An American woman has been charged with buying a baby and trying to cover up the sale by claiming the infant was dumped on her doorstep. A Canadian co-defendant was charged with criminal complicity. Both women pleaded not guilty. The American woman, LM, 46, is accused by prosecutors of obtaining a child by fraudulent means, namely by paying the female owner of a women's shelter, CM, an undisclosed sum of money for the child, according to documents submitted to the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance. The incident is said to have occurred in 2005; the investigation began last year when police received information that CM was buying unwanted children and then reselling them.

LM is charged with misleading the Dubai Sharia Court into believing she found an unidentified male baby on her door step, forging a child fostering application and using that document to obtain a Liberian passport for the child. Prosecutors, citing recordings of the defendant's telephone conversations with CM, say CM was heard instructing LM to mislead authorities by telling them she found the baby on her doorstep even though the Canadian, SF, 55, brought the child to LM after CM took him away from his natural mother, who, CM claimed, had become pregnant out of wedlock and did not wish to keep the child. The Russian mother, IK, acknowledged to police that she became pregnant following an illicit affair. She said CM helped her and paid her hospital bills at a private hospital in Al Ain and that CM sent a Somali woman named Zakhira to take the baby.

She said Zakhira told her that CM ordered the removal of the baby and that she would never see him again. IK said a European woman named Linda called her later to ask about her medical history. When she asked why, Linda said she needed the information because she was taking care of her baby, for which she had paid a large sum of money to CM. During police questioning, LM admitted that CM told her to tell authorities that she found the child at the doorstep of her Dubai home and that she did not know who his parents where.

LM was told by CM that the child belonged to an Indonesian woman resident in Dhaidh, in Sharjah, who became pregnant out of wedlock and did not want the child. An undercover police officer, identified only as AY, told prosecutors in his written statement that in March 2008 he received information that CM was using a women's shelter in Umm Suqeim for illegal activities, buying unwanted children from their families and selling them to people who wanted children.

AY said he learnt that IK had come into contact with C M through a Russian friend, NN, 42, a teacher, and that CM helped IK give birth in the UAE and took her into the shelter afterwards. "When IK would ask CM about her baby CM would threaten her and tell her she would inform police that she gave birth as a result of an illicit relationship," AY said in his statement. AY said he presented this information to his superiors, who obtained an order from prosecutors to tap CM's mobile phone as well as the phones of LM and SF, the Canadian.

In recorded conversations between the defendants and CM, police learnt that SF was the person who actually left the child on LM's doorstep. Police also learnt that LM filed a police report fraudulently claiming that an unidentified child had been left at her doorstep, and used that report to apply before the Sharia Court to foster the child. The case was adjourned until June 14, when the defence will present its case.

hbathish@thenational.ae