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‘Baby factory’ suspect living in Cambodia

‘Baby factory’ suspect living in Cambodia

A Japanese businessman suspected of human trafficking after police raided his “baby factory” in Bangkok has invited Thai officials to Cambodia where four of his surrogate-born offspring are being raised.

At a press conference on Saturday, Thai police said they would accept the offer, which was extended via the father’s self-described “coordinator”. A delegation will soon be sent to Cambodia to investigate the well-being of the infants, according to assistant Thai police chief Kokiat Wongworachart.

Mitsutoki Shigeta, 24, is under investigation for suspicions that he was fathering and then selling numerous infants across Asia. Earlier this month, Thai police raided Shigeta’s Bangkok apartment, finding nine surrogate babies and a pregnant surrogate mother, as well as birth certificates linking him to another six infants in Thailand.

Police believe Shigeta fathered at least 15 babies in Thailand using donor eggs, in vitro fertilisation and 11 different surrogate mothers. Shigeta allegedly fled to Macau after being tipped off about the raid.

According to Thai immigration officers, Shigeta has visited Thailand over 40 times since 2012, and occasionally brought babies out of the country with him. Eleven of the infants, who are between 6 months and 1 year old, are currently in the care of the junta government, while four others are in Cambodia, where Shigeta reportedly holds a passport due to his investments in the Kingdom.

Ministry of Commerce records show four Cambodian businesses registered under the name “Mitsutoki Shigeta”. All four list the same phone number, which went unanswered yesterday, and are in Sen Sok and Chamkarmon districts.

Government officials, however, said they are unaware of any investigation into Shigeta.

“We have not yet received any information, but we will cooperate with the Thai police should they investigate related to this case,” said Chhin Da, deputy director of the municipal anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection unit.

The National Police and officials at the ministry’s passport office could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Cambodia and Thailand both lack a legal structure regulating surrogacy, which reproduction officials said is not yet common, or explicitly legal, in Cambodia.

“The law has yet to catch up with technology,” said Dr Vor Chivorn, director of the Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia. “People are talking more and more about it.”

In 2011, a Taiwanese national was arrested for running a commercial surrogacy service out of Thailand and Cambodia.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY BANGKOK POST

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