Japanese Man Suspected of Trafficking Babies

A Japanese national has brought at least three infants into Cambodia from Thailand this year as part of a suspected baby trafficking operation using surrogate mothers, according to international media reports.

Shigeta Mitsutoki, 24, is believed to be a key figure in a scheme using Thai surrogate mothers to breed children for sale to parents across Asia, The Australian newspaper reported on Saturday, citing an unnamed immigration official. The operation was exposed in the wake of the international scandal sparked by an Australian couple’s alleged decision to abandon a baby boy born to a surrogate Thai woman because he had Down syndrome.

Mr. Mitsutoki is at large after reportedly fleeing Thailand on Thursday, two days after Thai authorities found nine children and a pregnant surrogate in a Bangkok apartment block suspected of being part of the operation.

The Australian, again citing immigration officials, reported that Mr. Mitsutoki traveled on a Cambodian passport, issued on the back of his father’s large business investments in the country, and brought the three children into Cambodia using Thai passports for each bearing his family name.

There is no mention of whether the infants were brought to stay in Cambodia or to travel elsewhere.

Thailand’s The Nation newspaper reported Saturday that Mr. Mitsutoki used his Cambodian passport to travel in and out of Thailand 14 times and two Japanese passports to enter and leave Thailand another 52 times.

The Nation also reported that an assistant of Mr. Mitsutoki, Ohno Yuki, fled from Thailand to Cambodia on the day of the raid on the Bangkok apartment.

Officials at the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department and the National Police could not be reached. Keo Thea, head of the Phnom Penh municipality’s anti-human trafficking office, declined to comment.

Ke Sovath, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s passport department, said he knew nothing about the case.

peter@cambodiadaily.com, reaksmey@cambodiadaily.com

© 2014, All rights reserved.