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Egypt says organ trafficking racket busted, dozens arrested

Doctors at prestigious universities are accused of working in the smuggling network. Investigators said they seized large sums of money and gold bullion.

A powerful Egyptian anti-corruption body said Tuesday it had uncovered an international criminal network involving universities and hospitals that smuggled human body parts.

Investigators seized millions of dollars and arrested up to 45 people including doctors, university professors, medical workers, owners of medical centers, intermediaries and brokers, the Administrative Control Authority, which conducted the investigation alongside the Health Ministry, said.

"Today at dawn, the largest international network for trading human organs has been captured," the authority said in a statement on its website.

"The accused who were arrested exploited the economic situation of some Egyptians and the suffering of some patients and their need for treatment to take large financial sums from them, thus breaking the law," the ministry said.

Authorities said they raided 10 medical centers and laboratories, seizing documents and computers with organ trading information.

Illegal trade

The investigation focused on a group of private hospitals and health centers, both licensed and unlicensed, where transplants and organ harvesting allegedly took place.

The facilities were shut down and the doctors suspended, pending the investigation.

Some of the doctors arrested worked in the medical faculties of well-known institutions such as Cairo and Ain Shams universities.

The ministry did not specify the scale of the operation or the amount of money seized.

Egypt passed a law in 2010 forbidding the purchase of human organs, and transplants between Egyptians and foreigners, except between marital partners.

The World Health Organization said at the time Egypt was one of the top five countries for illegal organ trading.

Hundreds of poor Egyptians sell their organs each year to pay for food and debts, according to the United Nations.

aw/se (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)

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