Maltese national Dennis Charles and his brother Derrick Charles have been sentenced to seven years in a Karachi prison, Pakistan, for their role in the kidnapping and smuggling of infants to Malta from Pakistan.
Another Pakistani man and his wife were sentenced to 7 years for their role in kidnapping 11 infants back in 2002.
They were also ordered to pay a fine of Rs100,000 each, with an additional one-year term on default of payment.
The case harks back to 15 March, 2002, when Gulshan-i-Iqbal police raided a bungalow where four boys and seven girls aged between three months and three years were found lying on the floor of the room.
One of the babies, which had been confined to a single room, had nothing but an old, dirty mattress on the floor, and was in danger of dying after refusing to drink milk or water.
Those arrested were identified as Dennis Charles, suspected of being the ringleader of the scam, his brother Derrick and their mother Joyce, Joseph Aziz, and four nannies, Shazia, Nasreen, Parveen and Zeenat.
Dennis Charles is the husband of Maltese national Concetta Charles, who has been bringing Pakistani babies over to Malta for adoption since 1997, through the United Christian Foundation. Charles was previously arrested in Pakistan on charges of smuggling children in 1998 and, according to the police, fled while on bail.
Concetta Charles had denied the accusations completely, saying that the children were not being smuggled into Malta, but were part of ‘bona fide’ adoptions arranged with Maltese families to give the children better opportunities in life. The Maltese families have already made part-payments for the children.
During preliminary interrogations, Dennis Charles disclosed that he had paid people for bringing infants from different localities. He also stated that the infants were to be smuggled to Malta and were to be sold to childless couples for USD1,500 to USD2,000 each.
Human rights organisation Ansar Burney Trust claimed the children were going to be smuggled at prices ranging from USD20,000 to USD30,000.
The accused also admitted to have smuggled as many as 100 infants to Malta with the help of his brother Derrick and his wife Cheta.
Dennis Charles’s Maltese wife Concetta has also been implicated in civil cases in Malta concerning private adoptions.
Sister newspaper MaltaToday on Sunday will this week follow the trail of private adoptions from Pakistan to Malta.