16 on trial for selling babies for adoption

A court in northern Vietnam has put 16 people on trial for allegedly selling more than 250 babies for foreign adoption.

The head of two social welfare centres in Nam Dinh province as well as several doctors and nurses at village clinics went on trial yesterday, said Dang Viet Hung, the chief judge at the court hearing the case. The defendants are charged with "abuse of power and authority" and could face prison terms of five to 10 years.

The defendants allegedly solicited infants from desperately poor families and falsified documents claiming that the babies had been abandoned, making them eligible for adoption. The ring sent 266 babies for foreign adoption from 2005 to July 2008, when the activity was discovered.

A newspaper reported yesterday that each defendant illegally earned 5 million dong (£170) to 10 million dong overall. The US embassy said in a report in April last year that Vietnam had failed to police its adoption system, allowing corruption, fraud and baby-selling to flourish.