Vietnamese women on trial for selling newborn babies

By Phuoc Tuan, Yen Khanh   May 18, 2024 | 07:00 pm PT
Vietnamese women on trial for selling newborn babies
Twelve defendants, including eight women who sold their newborn babies, stand trial in Binh Duong Province, May 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Yen Khanh
A court in the southern province of Binh Duong is hearing a case in which eight women have admitted to selling their newborns.

The defendants standing trial are Chu Thi Cuc Phuong, 42, Nguyen Thi Ngoc Nhu, 31, and 12 others.

Eight defendants are mothers who said they sold their own babies because the pregnancies were unexpected, and crushing poverty had left them desperate for money and would have prevented them from raising children properly.

The six others are accused of brokering the illegal deals and forging related documents.

All stand accused by the Binh Duong People's Court of "trafficking people under 16."

According to the indictment, in 2021, Phuong created a group on social media to find pregnant women who did not want to keep their children. Investigators said the purpose of the group was to buy newborns and then illegally resell them.

Prosecutors said Phuong and Nhu offered pregnancy caretaking services for the women who agreed to sell their children. The defendants bought each child for VND10-30 million (US$400-1,180) and sold them for over 40 million, according to investigators.

In order to produce "legitimized" documents for the adoptive parents, Phuong's group provided fake birth certificates, adoption consent papers and DNA test results that they purchased from another criminal group for VND2-7 million per document.

On Aug. 16, 2022, police caught Nhu in the act of transporting a newborn to sell to a couple in Dau Tieng District in Binh Duong. Fourteen individuals were subsequently arrested in relation to the case.

An investigation determined that from November 2021 through the end of August 2022, Phuong trafficked at least five newborns, making an illicit profit of VND70 million, while Nhu also made VND40 million trafficking five others.

In court, Phuong and Nhu admitted their guilt, but claimed ignorance of the law. They said they thought what they did was a normal case of "purchase and sale agreement," so they facilitated the deals to make a profit.

Two other defendants are accused of assisting Phuong and Nhu with the illegal transactions.

The eight defendants who sold their babies told the court that they did so because they already had too many children and could not afford raising any more. They also said they had gotten pregnant unexpectedly out of wedlock.

The group of defendants purchasing the newborns said they did so because of infertility. The investigation has yet to determine if these buyers in fact planned to resell the babies or not.

All the accused buyers were relatively young and said they did not realize at the time that their actions were wrong and violated the law.

The prosecution has requested that the court sentence Phuong to 20 years in prison for trafficking people under 16, with an additional two-three years for forging documents.

They recommended that Nhu receive 18-20 years.

Recommended sentences for the remaining defendants ranged from fines of VND30 million to 13 years in prison.

The verdict is expected to be announced May 21.

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