Malaysian police rescue 9 children

Kuala Lumpur - Police have rescued nine children and arrested 33 suspected members of a child trafficking syndicate in northern Malaysia, a state police chief said Thursday.

The nine children, aged between two months and eight-years, were rescued separately in a police operation that started in December last year in the northern states of Penang, Kedah and Perak, according to Penang police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi.

Abdul Rahim said among the 33 arrested suspects was a woman in her 50s, who was believed to be the mastermind of the syndicate.

He said the syndicate would spot desperate pregnant foreign nationals, mostly Indonesians and Thais, in hospitals and then negotiate to buy their babies for at least 2,000 ringgit (20,000 baht).

The babies were then sold to childless couples for between 15,000 ringgit and 30,000 ringgit, including an original birth certificate showing the buyers were the parents of the child and a national identification number for the baby issued by the country's National Registration Department.

Abdul Rahim said the rescued children are in a safe place pending a court order to place them in foster homes, while the suspects are being detained in the police headquarters in Georgetown in Penang, 290 kilometres north of Kuala Lumpur, pending the filing of child trafficking cases against them.

Child trafficking in Malaysia is punishable by up to 20-years imprisonment.

Related search: child trafficking, Malaysia

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Writer: dpa