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Duisburg prosecutors drop eBay baby investigation

The man in question asserted he was joking when he offered to sell his baby online. However, his wife and daughter remain in a facility where they have been forced to live during the investigation.

The public prosecutor's office in Duisburg on Thursday stopped its investigation into a father who offered to sell his baby daughter for 5,000 euros ($5,238) on the popular auction website eBay.

The prosecutor said that the father's assertion that the post was a joke could not be disproven, and was only enforced by the fact that he deleted the post after just half an hour.

The man said he had been inspired by a similar prank played by a man in England who had put his wife up for auction on eBay - a joke that went viral online.

However, he said that once he realized some people where making serious bids for his daughter, who then was just 40 weeks old, he immediately deleted the post.

Despite the post being a supposed joke, the accusations thrown at the father were anything but. The prosecution investigated him on suspicion of human trafficking. Fortunately for him, the office could not find any evidence that he had entered into serious negotiations with a prospective buyer, a prerequisite for a charge of (attempted) child trafficking.

At the end of October shortly after the ad was posted, however, the Duisburg family court had ruled that child had to be taken into care and the parents detained. The father could then only visit his daughter under supervision. A family judge then ordered the mother to relocate with her daughter to a mother and child facility where, according to the city of Duisburg, they continue to live to this day.

dm/kms (dpa, KPA)