A Briton was arrested in Thailand after the bodies of six foetuses thought to be intended for black magic rituals were found stuffed into his luggage.
Some were covered in gold leaf, indicating they were destined to be used in rites believed to bring good fortune.
Chow Hok Kuen, a 28-year-old British citizen born to Taiwanese parents in Hong Kong, was arrested in Bangkok's Chinatown on suspicion of possessing human remains. If convicted, he faces a year in jail and a £40 fine.
Officers made the discovery in a hotel room in the Yaowarat district. The foetuses were tattooed and adorned with religious threads. Their source is uncertain, but 400,000 Thais each year have abortions – despite the practice being illegal unless the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or poses a threat to the mother's health.
According to police, the suspect claimed that he bought the foetuses, all boys, online for 200,000 baht (£4,000). He reportedly intended to smuggle them to Taiwan, where they would be sold for up to six times as much.
Worship of foetuses, observed by some in the Chinese community, is a Buddhist-animist practice known as kuman thong described in ancient Thai manuscripts. A police spokesman said: "Some believers keep foetuses and bodies of babies wrapped in gold leaf at home to bring good luck."Reuse content