Thursday, July 26, 2007
Israeli police arrest nine citizens suspected of trafficking in organs
The Associated Press
Monday, July 23, 2007
JERUSALEM: Israeli police have broken up an organ transplanting ring that persuaded dozens of Israelis to have their kidneys removed in Ukraine for $30,000 (€21,700) each, a spokesman said Monday.
Nine Israelis suspected of trafficking in organs and humans have been arrested and remain in custody, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
The case was opened when an Israeli woman filed a police complaint charging that she was not paid after her kidney was removed in Ukraine, Rosenfeld said. She had answered an ad in the local press, he said.
Police uncovered the ring by sending an undercover officer to pose as a potential donor, he said.
Army Radio quoted police as saying dozens of people may have been duped into donating organs. Ads seeking donors were published in the Russian and Arabic press, the radio said.
"We are talking about several incidents in which we located the people," a senior police commander, Lior Boker, told Army Radio. "I estimate that ... over a long period of time we are talking about a lot more people."
Israeli police have informed the Ukrainian police of the arrests, Rosenfeld said.
Israel allows transplants from relatives or anonymous donors, but the law forbids any sale of organs. Still, local and foreign laws are not sufficient to stop the sale of organs if people travel abroad, said Eitan Mor, executive director of the Israeli Transplantation Society.
"It's a jungle out there," Mor said. "As soon as Israelis go abroad to give organs this opens the door to trafficking in organs."
About 200 Israelis go abroad every year to receive transplants, most of them to receive kidneys, Mor said.
Police may have to release the suspects since Israeli law does not explicitly forbid trafficking in organs, said Meir Broder, a legal adviser to the Health Ministry. Draft legislation before Israel's parliament would make it illegal to transport or deal in organs, Broder said.
Israel has began cracking down on transplants abroad when organ trafficking is suspected, Broder said.
Since last year, Israeli health maintenance organizations have been required to question the source of organs transplanted into their members abroad. This has prevented Israelis from receiving state-funded transplants in China, he said, where human rights groups believe organs have been taken from executed prisoners.