SURROGATE UPDATE (Thurs): Warnings issued a year ago | Bangkok Post: learning

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SURROGATE UPDATE (Thurs): Warnings issued a year ago

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Latest (Thursday): A fertility centre founder made repeated warnings to Interpol and media outlets a year ago over the never-ending demand for more surrogate mothers from the Japanese man at the centre of a human trafficking probe, but they went unheeded. 

The scanned page of Shigeta Mitsutoki's passport as acquired upon his departure for Macau early Thursday last week.

Thursday morning update

Note: Audio follows text

Interpol 'warned' of serial surrogacy

Dane Halpin

The founder of a multinational fertility centre says she warned Interpol and global media outlets last year about the Japanese man at the centre of a human trafficking probe, after learning he wanted to father dozens of children to surrogate mothers every year.

Mariam Kukunashvili, co-founder of New Life Global Network, admitted to providing two surrogate mothers at the same time to Mitsutoki Shigeta last year, but said suspicions about the then-22-year-old’s motives arose soon after.

“We served Shigeta one time only and then he demanded he wanted more and more babies,” she said.

“I immediately found it suspicious, especially for a man of his age, and we refused to further serve him and warned Interpol, the BBC, CNN, and the Japanese embassy.”

One of the surrogate mothers provided by New Life's Thailand branch gave birth to twins, while the other had a single child. Ms Kukunashvili said she learned while the women were pregnant that Mr Shigeta had commissioned another three surrogate mothers from a separate agency.

Birth certificates have been found indicating the Japanese businessman has fathered 15 babies to surrogate mothers in Thailand. Nine of the children were discovered during a raid on a condominium in Lat Phrao last week. At least three others have already been taken out of the country.

Police are still investigating whether the children were part of a human-trafficking scheme.

Documents obtained by the Bangkok Post appear to confirm that Ms Kukunashvili contacted Interpol on Aug 3 last year, warning that “something is very wrong here”.

“He freezes sperm very frequently and says he is going to have 10 babies per year and wants to make sure he has sufficient frozen sperm [as he is going to make babies even when he is old],” Ms Kukunashvili wrote.

“In spite of the fact he is already expecting six babies, he again requests from us to make more and more babies and to provide him with more and more surrogate mothers."

She said no response had been received from Interpol.

Ms Kukunashvili said New Life Thailand had acted only as an intermediary in the surrogacy arrangement with Mr Shigeta, while the actual IVF procedures were performed by Pisit Tantiwattanakul, director of the All IVF Center in Bangkok.

“I phoned Dr Pisit and informed him that [Mr Shigeta’s request] was suspicious, but he did not listen and continued serving Shigeta himself,” she said.

The All IVF Center was shut down last week after an investigation by the Medical Council of Thailand linked it to the Japanese businessman's case.

Commercial surrogacy is a breach of the council's ethical guidelines.

Dr Pisit has been unavailable for comment for the past week and efforts by the Bangkok Post to contact him yesterday went unanswered.

Although stressing she had never met Mr Shigeta in person, Ms Kukunashvili suggested her staff had painted him as a man showing possible signs of mental imbalance.

When questioned about his motives for fathering so many children, she said Mr Shigeta’s initial response was "so that he could have a big family for voting … [and] win an election in Japan”.

She said she also learned Mr Shigeta wanted to buy equipment to freeze his sperm at home, but Dr Pisit rejected the request due to the dangers of storing liquid nitrogen.

Ms Kukunashvili said her staff had been shown three separate passports which belong to Mr Shigeta — Japanese, Chinese and Cambodian.

Mr Shigeta fled Thailand on a flight to Macau. He is thought to be a resident of Hong Kong where he reportedly owns a luxury apartment and has minor business interests. His father is believed to be an influential businessman in Japan.

Wednesday morning update

DNA tests have proven nine babies found at a condominium in Bangkok last week have the same father, but authorities have yet to prove a Japanese businessman is that father, senior Thai police doctor Jongjate Aojanepong said Tuesday.

He said at a press conference that according to birth certificates found by investigators, the businessman has been named as the father of 15 babies.

Nine of the 15 are now under guardianship at Pakkred Babies' Home in Pak Kret district of Nonthaburi and four children were discovered leaving Thailand for Cambodia, immigration officials said.

A set of twins is receiving treatment at a hospital in Bangkok. Police plan to test the DNA of the twins when they recover from an unspecified illness.

The veteran police physician said it appeared the children were conceived from eggs from "various races" of women. The doctor said it has not been determined if the children were part of a human-trafficking scheme.

Mitsutoki Shigeta, the man believed to have fathered the 13 surrogate children, left on a flight to Macau last week. He was accompanied by a Japanese woman also sought by police, Yuka Unno, 27.

Sunday update

In brief: It is now believed that the 24-year-old Japanese man has fathered 13 surrogate babies, not nine as previously thought. Several have already been taken out of the country. A Japanese woman may also have been involved in the operation and she, too, has fled the country.

Here are the latest details from Bangkok Post reporter Apinya Wipatayotin:

A Japanese woman linked to a potential human trafficking case involving 13 surrogate babies has fled the country, a police source confirmed on Saturday.

Security camera footage from the Suvarnabhumi airport immigration office showed the Japanese woman accompanying Mitsutoki Shigeta, the man believed to have fathered the 13 surrogate children, as he left on a flight to Macau on Thursday, the source said. She was identified as Yuka Unno, 27.

Officers at immigration headquarters are verifying the images and re-checking the identity of both suspects, the source added.

Mr Shigeta, a 24-year-old Japanese national, fled the country after a police raid on his rented condominium at The Niche ID Lat Phrao on Tuesday uncovered nine surrogate babies and a pregnant woman.

The children were sent to Pakkred Babies’ Home in Pak Kret district of Nonthaburi, while the pregnant woman was held as a witness.

Ms Unno is believed to have been staying in the same apartment and is wanted by police for questioning.

Ratthaprathan Tulathorn, a lawyer for Mr Shigeta, said on Tuesday his client had fathered the babies and all would be taken care of.

It was also revealed three other surrogate children had been taken out of Thailand by Mr Shigeta, whose name reportedly appeared on their birth certificates. Police believe Ms Unno may have helped him get the babies out of the country.

PREVIOUS UPDATE

Japanese 'father' abandons surrogate babies

A 24-year-old Japanese man claimed to be the father of nine surrogate babies discovered in Bangkok, Shigeta Mitsutoki, fled Thailand early Thursday morning passing through immigration at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport about 1am and boarding a flight bound for Macau.

The Japanese man had visited Thailand 65 times since 2012.

Police had tried to reach him to verify the claim that he is the biological father of nine surrogate babies,  aged from two weeks to two years, found at rented rooms at a Lat Phrao condominium.

Police wanted DNA tests to verify the claim of fatherhood made by the man's Thai lawyer as the babies looked very different.

Read full story here

Nine babies born to surrogate mothers in Bangkok have been taken to a state-run nursing home in Nonthaburi’s Pak Kret district along with their nannies (pictured, right) while police launch an investigation into the surrogacy scandal. A Japanese man reportedly rented rooms in The Niche ID Lat Phrao condominium in Soi Lat Phrao 130 in Bang Kapi district and hired women to take care of the babies. (Photos by Thanarak Khunton)

MEDICAL TOURISM

Nine babies found in Bangkok 'surrogate condo'

Japanese man claims to be biological father
7 Aug 2014
Paritta Wangkiat and Lamphai Intathep

DNA testing will be conducted to establish the relationships of nine babies from surrogate mothers and a Japanese businessman who claims to be their biological father as a fresh surrogacy scandal emerged in Thailand.

Anti-human trafficking suppression police have stepped in to investigate the Japanese surrogacy case which came to light on Tuesday when nine surrogate babies were found in a city condo.

Pol Gen Aek Angsananont, deputy national police chief, said the DNA testing is a crucial part of the police investigation into the latest surrogacy case which is likely to be more complicated than the baby Gammy affair.

The new case, which has raised questions over the relative ease with which foreigners can come to Thailand to have surrogate babies, was exposed on Tuesday when authorities, acting on a tip-off, found nine babies, six boys and three girls, aged from two weeks to two years, in rented rooms at The Niche ID Lat Phrao condominium in soi Lat Phrao 130 in Bang Kapi district.

The authorities also found seven nannies and a 20-year-old pregnant woman. All nine babies, as well as the one being carried by the pregnant woman, are claimed to be surrogates.

The babies have been taken to a state-run nursing home in Nonthaburi's Pak Kret district.

Shortly after the search, lawyer Ratthaprathan Tulathorn contacted police and claimed he is representing a Japanese man. He said his client is the father of all the surrogate babies.

The surrogacy arrangements were legal and no women were forced to carry a child.

Mr Ratthaprathan provided information about the father, but claimed he had no details about the biological mothers, police said.

They declined to name the Japanese man.

Pol Gen Aek said Wednesday that police have questioned all the nannies as well as the pregnant woman and are asking the Japanese embassy to assist them in contacting the man for questioning.

"If the Japanese man turns out to be the father of the babies, the question is why he wants so many babies," he said.

More details of the investigation, which is headed by Pol Maj Gen Chayut Thanathaweesap, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, are expected in a week, he said.

If the case is established to involve commercial surrogacy, police will look for the surrogacy service clinics and doctors who performed the procedures.

Yanee Lertkrai, director-general of the Department of Social Development and Welfare, said the surrogate babies were receiving good care at the Pakkred Babies' Home in Nonthaburi province.

Their nannies, who had been hired for 10,000 baht a month to take care of the surrogate babies, were released.

Ms Yanee said the surrogate mother found during the raid was seven months pregnant, and was brought to a safe place to serve as a witness.

"The surrogate mother says she was hired to serve as the surrogate for 300,000 baht if she could give birth to one child, and 400,000 baht for two. She needs money to pay for her car installments," he said.

Ms Yanee quoted the surrogate mother as saying a friend persuaded her to enter the venture. Her friend hoped to be a surrogate but failed to get pregnant after a fertilised egg was implanted.

Meanwhile, the ministry will take care of the children under the Child Protection Act, which allows it to step in until families or guardians are found. Health checks and DNA tests will be provided to all children.

"The babies all look different and it is hard to believe they share the same blood. Personally, I think the surrogacy of the babies is illegal," she said.

Meanwhile, Pol Col Chitpob Tomuan, superintendent of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division, said Lat Phrao police are in charge of the investigation but the division will also join in.

He said legal action will be taken against the people concerned if the scandal involves human trafficking.

Based on the information at hand, he said the case is being treated as a violation of a law governing sanatorium licences and the Medical Council's regulations on assisted reproduction technology services.

The division will also take part in the investigation into the baby Gammy case. It will ask for information from the Medical Council which is investigating the issue.

Wallop Tungkananurak, secretary-general of the Creation Foundation for Children, said the human rights of Gammy and the nine babies were violated because surrogacy is permitted only if blood relatives of the couple are the surrogates, under the Medical Council of Thailand's code of conduct.

"In case of the surrogate baby Gammy, his rights were violated before he had opened his eyes to the world as he was born illegally.

"After he was born, his rights were further violated as his parents refused to take care of him."

Vichien Chavalit, permanent-secretary for the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, said a surrogacy bill was needed to prevent commercial surrogacy.

A bill likely to go before the legislative assembly would make it illegal to turn a profit from surrogacy.

The would-be parents must be married under Thai law, and the surrogate mother would have to have carried a pregnancy before.

A Japanese man reportedly rented rooms in The Niche ID condominium in Soi Lat Phrao 130 in Bangkok's Bang Kapi district and hired women to take care of nine surrogate babies aged 1-6 months.

Learn from listening

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Vocabulary:

acquire: to get; to obtain - ได้มาซึ่ง

admit: to agree that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it - ยอมรับ

affair: an event - เรื่องราว

appear: to seem - ดูเหมือนจะ, ดูเหมือนว่า

arise (past form: arose): to happen as a result of a particular situation - เกิดขึ้น

arrangement: a plan or preparation that you make so that something can happen; an agreement that you make with somebody that you can both accept - การจัดการ, ข้อตกลง

authority: a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ

biological father: the real father whose sperm contributed genes to the baby -

biological mother: the real mother; the mother whose egg contributes genes to a baby -

branch: an office, company, shop, etc., representing a large company or organisation in a particular area - สาขา

breach: a failure to follow a law or rule - การละเมิดกฎหมาย

case: a matter that is being officially investigated, especially by the police - คดี

case: a particular situation or a situation of a particular type - กรณี, เหตุการณ์, สถานการณ์

certificate: an official document or record stating that particular facts are true - หนังสือรับรอง

chief: a person with a high rank or the highest rank in a company or an organisation - หัวหน้า, ผู้นำ

claim: saying that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - ข้ออ้าง ข้อกล่าวหา

client: a customer or someone who receives services of a lawyer - ลูกความ

come to light: to be revealed; to make known - ถูกเปิดเผยออกมา

commercial: for business purposes - เกี่ยวกับการค้า

commission: to officially ask for a piece of work to be done - มอบหมายให้ทำ

commissioner: the head of a particular police force in some countries - ผู้ตรวจการณ์

complicated: difficult to deal with, do or understand - ซับซ้อน

conceive: (of a woman) to become pregnant - ตั้งครรภ์

conduct: to carry out — - ดำเนิน

confirm: to state or show that something is definitely true or correct, especially by providing evidence - ยืนยัน

contact: having communication with someone - การติดต่อ การสัมผัส

contact: to communicate with someone - ติดต่อ

crucial: extremely important because it effects the result of something - สำคัญยิ่ง

decline: to say politely that you will not accept something or do something - ปฏิเสธที่จะทำ 

departure: leaving - การออกจาก

deputy: a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation - รอง

detail: the small facts or features of something - รายละเอียด, ส่วนเล็กๆ น้อยๆ, ส่วนย่อย

determine: to discover something by examining evidence to or calculate something - กำหนด, ระบุ, แสดงผล

discover: to find somebody/something, or learning about something that was not known about before - ค้นพบ

document: a paper or set of papers with written or printed information, especially of an official type  - เอกสาร

ease: to make or become less severe, difficult, unpleasant, painful, etc - ทำให้ง่าย

embassy: a building where a group of officials work who represent their government in a foreign country - สถานทูต

embassy: a group of officials who represent their government in a foreign country - สถานทูต

emerge: to appear - ปรากฏออกมา

establish: to determine; to discover something by examining evidence to or calculate something - กำหนด, ระบุ, แสดงผล

establish: to discover, prove, or decide that something is true - พิสูจน์, แสดงให้เห็น

ethical: involving the principles used for deciding what is right and what is wrong - ตามหลักจรรยา

exposed: made known; uncovered - เปิดเผยต่อ

father: to become the father of a child by making a woman pregnant - เป็นพ่อ

fatherhood: the condition of being a father -

fertility: the ability to have babies; how many babies women have in a country - ภาวะเจริญพันธุ์, อัตราการเกิดของประชากร,

flee: to leave a place or person quickly because you are afraid of possible danger - หนี อพยพ

flee (past form: fled): to leave a place or person quickly because you are afraid of possible danger - หนี อพยพ

footage: film or video of a particular subject or event - ฟิลม์หรือคลิปภาพยนตร์ หรือวิดีโอ

force: making someone do something that they don't want to do - การบังคับ

founder: a person who establishes an institution, business, or organisation - ผู้ก่อตั้ง

frequently: happening often - บ่อยๆ

fresh: clearly new and different; clean, bright, and attractive in appearance - ใหม่, กระชุ่มกระชวย, มีชีวิตชีวา

global: known throughout the world - ระดับโลก

guardianship: the state or position of being responsible for somebody/something - ความคุ้มครอง

guidelines: official instructions or advice about how to do something - สิ่งที่ช่วยแนะแนวทางให้ปฏิบัติ

identified: named, said to be - ระบุ, ระบุชื่อ

imbalance: a situation in which the balance between two things is not equal or fair - ความไม่สมดุล, การขาดความสมดุล

immigration: dealing with people entering and leaving the country - การตรวจคนเข้าเมือง

immigration: the process in which people enter a country in order to live there permanently - การย้ายถิ่นฐาน

indicate: to show that something is true, exists or will happen - แสดง, ทำให้รู้

influential: of a person or group who has the power to affect a situation - มีอิทธิพล

initial: early; first - เบื้องต้น

intermediary: a person or an organisation that helps other people or organisations to make an agreement by being a means of communication between them; someone who talks to each of the people or groups involved in something, usually passing information from one to the other or trying to persuade them to agree with each other - สื่อกลาง, ตัวกลาง, คนกลาง

Interpol: an international organization that enables the police forces of different countries to help each other to solve crimes - องค์การตำรวจสากล

investigate: to try to find out the facts about something in order to learn the truth about it - ตรวจสอบหาความจริง

investigation: the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something in order to discover who or what caused it or how it happened - การสอบสวน, การตรวจสอบหาข้อเท็จจริง

involved: taking part or having a role in something - เกี่ยวข้อง

latest: newest; most recent - ] ล่าสุด, See also: ทันสมัยที่สุด, เกิดหลังสุด

launch: starting something - การเริ่มต้น

lawyer: an attorney - ทนาย

legal: relating to the law or lawyers - เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย

linked: connected - เชื่อมโยง เกี่ยวกับ

luxury: the best and most expensive of something - ที่หรูหรา 

mental: connected with or happening in the mind; involving the process of thinking - เกี่ยวกับจิตใจ

metropolitan police: the police in responsible for a city - ตำรวจนครบาล

motive: a reason for doing something - แรงจูงใจ

multinational: a company that operates in many different countries - บรรษัทข้ามชาติ, บริษัทระหว่างประเทศ

nanny: a woman whose job is to take care of young children in the children's own home - พี่เลี้ยงเด็ก

nursing home: a special place to look after people who are weak and need someone to take care of them because they are old or sick - สถานดูแลคนชราหรือคนไม่แข็งแรง, บ้านพักคนชรา, สถานพยาบาล, สถานที่ดูแลรักษาคนสูงอายุหรือคนที่ไม่แข็งแรง

operation: an activity which is planned to achieve something - การดำเนินการ

outlet: a business broadcasting the content of a particular producer - ช่อง

passport: the official government document that people need to travel outside their own country - หนังสือเดินทาง

perform duties: to do what your job requires - ปฏิบัติหน้าที่

physician: a doctor, especially one who is a specialist in general medicine and not surgery - หมอ,แพทย์, นายแพทย์

potential: possible in the future - ที่อาจเป็นไปได้

pregnant: having a baby developing inside the body - ท้อง ตั้งครรภ์

press conference: an official meeting where someone makes a formal statement about a particular issue or event to journalists and answers their questions about it - การแถลงข่าว

procedure: a way of doing something - ขั้นตอนการดำเนินการ

question: when the police asks a person questions in the investigation of a crime -

race: one of the main groups that humans can be divided into according to their physical differences, for example the colour of their skin - กลุ่มชาติพันธุ์, เผ่าพันธุ์

raid: to forcefully and suddenly enter a place to catch criminals or to search for something like drugs or, in this case, fake passports - ใช้กำลังเข้าค้นสถานที่หรือ จับกุมคนร้าย

raid: using force or legal authority to enter a place suddenly in order to arrest people or search for something such as illegal weapons or drugs - การเข้าตรวจค้น

relationship: the way in which two people, groups or countries behave towards each other or deal with each other - ความสัมพันธ์

relative: somewhat; in comparison with someone or something similar - ค่อนข้าง

release: allowing someone/something to go free - การปล่อย

rent: to pay money for the use of something for a period of time - เช่า

reportedly: as reported (often used for showing that you are not certain that something you are reporting is true) - ตามที่รายงาน

represent: to act, speak or be present officially for another person or people - เป็นตัวแทน

resident: a person who lives in a particular area - ผู้ที่อาศัยในท้องที่

response: an answer - การตอบ

reveal: to let something become known - เปิดเผย

scandal: a situation in which people behave in a dishonest or immoral way that shocks people - เรื่องอื้อฉาว

scheme: a plan for achieving something, especially something illegal or dishonest - แผนการ (ที่มีท่าว่าจะผิดกฎหมาย)

search: looking somewhere or through something carefully in order to find something - การค้นหา

security camera: a camera that is put in a place to constantly record what happens there - กล้องวงจรปิดเพื่อรักษาการความปลอดภัย

source: a place where information comes from; someone who gives information - แหล่ง

source: someone who gives information - แหล่งข่าว

sperm: a cell from a man that fertilizes the egg inside a woman's body and makes her pregnant; the liquid from a man's penis that contains sperm - ตัวอสุจิ, น้ำกามผู้ชาย

state: government - รัฐบาล

step in: intervene in a situation; mediate - เป็นผู้ไกล่เกลี่ย, เป็นสื่อกลาง, ไกล่เกลี่ย

store: to put and keep things in a special place for use in the future - เก็บ

stress: to emphasise something such as an idea, fact or detail; to explain why something is important - เน้น

sufficient: enough - เพียงพอ

suppression: stopping an activity from happening, in this case, criminal activity  - การปราบปราม

surrogacy: when a woman has a baby for another woman and some man - การตั้งครรภ์แทน,การอุ้มบุญ

surrogate baby: a baby from a surrogate mother -

surrogate mother: a woman who has a baby for another woman and couple, either for money for free - แม่อุ้มบุญ; มารดาที่รับตั้งครรภ์แทน

suspect: a person who is thought to have committed a crime - ผู้ต้องสงสัย

suspicion: a feeling that something bad is probably true or likely to happen - ความสงสัย

suspicious: making you believe that something is wrong, dangerous or illegal - น่าสงสัย

tip-off: secret information or a warning given by someone  - ข่าวเตือน จากวงใน

trafficking: dealing in illegal goods, like drugs, weapons or in illegally moving humans or animals from one place to another - การค้าสิ่งที่ผิดกฎหมาย

treatment: the process of providing medical care - การรักษา

twins: two children born at the same time to the same mother - แฝด, ฝาแฝด

unspecified: not stated clearly or definitely - ไม่ระบุให้แน่ชัด

verify: to prove that something is true, or to make certain that something is correct - พิสูจน์ว่าเป็นความจริง

veteran: a person who has a lot of experience in a particular area or activity - ผู้อาวุโส

witness: someone who tells a court or investigators what they know about a crime or other legal case. - พยาน

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