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24 Jul, 2007 19:37

Eight Israelis charged with trafficking human organs

Israeli police have broken up an organ transplanting ring that persuaded dozens of Israelis to have their kidneys removed in Ukraine. But, because Israeli law does not explicitly forbid the trafficking of organs, police may have to release the suspects.

In the eternal search for money people go to different lengths to earn a quick buck. Some work overtime, others take on extra projects while still some opt for something that doesn’t involve too much effort but guarantees a handsome $US 35,000 return – the rather unsavoury option of selling body organs.
This kind of business is very popular in poor countries – in Africa, Latin America and across Russia. In Israel, police are dealing with it for the first time. And they wouldn’t have become aware of it if the golden law of business had not been broken – to pay for a service rendered.
The case was opened when an Israeli woman filed a police complaint charging she was not paid $US 35,000 she had been promised after her kidney was removed in Ukraine. The organ transplanting ring was busted after an undercover police officer posed as a potential donor.
“So far we have captured eight suspects. The court has decided to keep them in jail until the final hearing. We have very good evidence of their involvement in the crime and they’re being charged for the trafficking of organs which falls under the law of human trafficking,” explained Alex Kagansky, Israeli police spokesperson.

It’s not difficult to become an organ donor. Ads have appeared in both the Russian and Arabic press. Dozens of people are believed to have been duped into donating their body organs.
“We are co-operating with the Ukrainian justice system. In Ukraine and Israel, there is no law that a person cannot sell body organs. But what police are charging is that they were trafficking organs, which is illegal,” said Lizzy Troend, defence lawyer.
Israel allows transplants from relatives or anonymous donors, but the law forbids anyone to buy organs, which is why, every year, an estimated 200 Israelis go abroad to receive transplants, mostly kidneys.

Local and foreign laws are insufficient to stop the sale of organs if Israelis travel abroad in a country where the police usually find themselves dealing with terrorism and the mafia.