Bangkok 'baby factory' includes twins from Aus woman's eggs

LINDSAY MURDOCH
Last updated 19:16 17/08/2014
Shigeta Mitsutoki
FATHER OF 15: A photo of a man identified as Shigeta Mitsutoki.

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A twin boy and girl who came from eggs donated by an Australian woman were among 21 babies documented in a Bangkok "baby factory" condominium in the Thai capital.

Thai authorities say the 21 babies were in addition to 15 fathered in Thailand by 24-year-old Japanese businessman Mitsutoki Shigeta through 11 Thai surrogate mothers.

Nine of the babies were taken from the condominium in the suburb of Lad Phrao almost two weeks ago amid a crackdown on surrogacy, and are being cared for in a Bangkok orphanage, their future uncertain.

Police have discovered that donor eggs used in in vitro fertilisation that produced the 21 babies came from Australia, the US, Sweden, China, Spain, Brazil, Malaysia and Israel. The babies were registered at the condominium from late 2013 to June 2014, according to records obtained by police.

Fairfax Media has obtained the names of the twins produced with donor eggs from Australia, whose whereabouts are not known. Police are investigating whether they have been taken to Australia. They were registered at the condominium in April.

Nine of the 21 babies came from eggs donated by a Spanish woman.

The revelations of Shigeta's activities have shocked many Thais and follow Fairfax Media breaking the news of the plight of Gammy, the critically unwell baby with Down syndrome who was left behind in Thailand by Australian David Farnell, a convicted child sex offender.

The story prompted Thailand's military rulers to shut down Thailand's commercial surrogacy industry, leaving an estimated 200 Australian couples facing bureaucratic hurdles and months of waiting to learn if they will be able to take their babies home.

Thai authorities have declared that biological parents must obtain a court order showing the birth mother grants parental authority to them before they can leave the country with the babies.

At least three Australian couples carrying their babies have been turned back from Bangkok airport in recent days.

Australia's ambassador in Bangkok, James Wise, is seeking an urgent meeting with the military regime to argue that the Australians entered into surrogacy agreements in good faith and transitional arrangements should be put in place to allow them to take their babies before the enacting of legislation that will outlaw surrogacy, except involving family members.

Thai police want to question Shigeta, who has left Thailand, over his motive for having fathered 15 babies, four of whom are believed to be in Cambodia where he holds a Cambodian passport and has business interests. Police say there is no evidence linking Shigeta to human trafficking.

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They say an "adviser" to Shigeta has invited them to travel to Cambodia see how well four children there are being cared for.

Thai immigration officials have confirmed Shigeta travelled from Bangkok to Phnom Penh more than 40 times and on several occasions had taken babies with him.

Initially a lawyer and former drug squad policeman representing Shigeta said the Japanese businessman wanted the babies so they could take over his business when they grow up. But that lawyer no longer represents him.

Thai media have reported that Shigeta is believed to have fathered three more babies in India before commercial surrogacy was shut down there last year.

He wanted one clinic to provide facilities in the condominium so he could store his frozen sperm, according to Thai media reports.

One unconfirmed report in the Japan Times said Shigeta told staff of one fertility clinic in Bangkok he wanted to have 10 to 15 babies a year.

"The best thing I can do for the world is to leave the world many children," the report quoted Shigeta as saying.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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