Italian doctor arrested over alleged sale of a baby for €25,000

Student persuaded not to have an abortion by gynaecologist who was paid by childless couple

Milan

An Italian gynaecologist persuaded a young woman not to have an abortion so that he could sell her baby and pocket €25,000 (£21,000), according to police in Naples.

The doctor, Andrea Cozzolino, 57, was arrested this week on suspicion of corruption and abuse of office, after evidence emerged that two years ago he persuaded a 17-year-old student to carry her child to term, telling her that he would pass the baby on to a childless couple.

However, it is alleged that he didn’t tell the mother that the couple he had found would pay him €25,000 to deliver the child to them.

The young woman, who became pregnant by her student boyfriend, was delayed in seeking a legal abortion (paid for by Italy’s health service) because of her age and her refusal to allow her parents to be contacted, according to Alessandro Tocco, Caserta’s deputy police chief.

Hold-ups and bureaucracy meant that the student was already six months’ pregnant, and past the point where an abortion is legal under Italian law, when she approached Dr Cozzolino, whom she had heard might perform an illegal termination for her.

When she said she was unable to afford the €6,000 fee the gynaecologist wanted to perform the procedure, he instead offered to deliver the baby free of charge at the Santa Lucia di San Giuseppe Vesuviano clinic if she carried the baby to term and allowed him to put the infant up for adoption by a childless couple.

The couple, a 54-year-old man and 48-year-old woman, are being investigated for breaching Italy’s adoption laws, alongside the doctor.

Dr Cozzolino appeared to have planned the scheme carefully. He ensured the adoptive mother was in hospital at the same time as the 17-year-old gave birth, so that the newborn could be passed to her new family immediately.

But within a few months, the biological mother of the child was alarmed to discover that the child had nonetheless been listed as hers on local birth records. In a panic, the young woman fabricated a story that she had been raped to explain her pregnancy. After the investigation that followed, the baby was removed from the couple and given to another family.

Investigators wire-tapped the couple, recording conversations in which the pair demanded their money back from the gynaecologist. The doctor claimed it wasn’t his fault – and protested that the scheme had failed because local health officials had filled in the birth register very quickly, before he’d had time to intervene.

Dr Cozzolino added that he wouldn’t be able to repay the money even if he wanted to, because he’d already used it to pay off gambling debts.

The gynaecologist’s medical association, L’Ordine dei Medici, told the Adnkronos news agency that it had suspended him and had contacted magistrates urgently requesting details of the charges, which the association’s spokesman, Bruno Ravera, said were of “an unprecedented seriousness”.

Many pregnant women in Italy have difficulty finding doctors who will agree to abortions before the legal time limit. According to a report last year by the then Minister for Health, Renato Balduzzi, the number of terminations is falling because an increasing number of medical practitioners refuse to perform them.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test