June 24, 2024
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Kenyan baby-thief jailed 25 years after BBC Africa Eye exposé

A Kenyan hospital work­er caught by the BBC trying to sell a baby has been sentenced to 25 years in jail.

Fred Leparan, who worked at Nairo­bi’s Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital, was filmed accepting $2,500 (£2,000) to sell a baby boy under the hospital’s care.

He was arrested in 2020 and found guilty of child trafficking, child neglect and conspiracy to commit a crime.

His co-accused, Selina Adundo, was sentenced to six years in jail or a $2,000 fine.

An Africa Eye reporter had initially approached Leparan posing as a potential buyer, after hearing from a source that the senior clinical social worker was involved in illegal child trafficking from the government-run hospital.

Leparan asked the undercover re­porter, who said she and her husband had struggled to conceive, only cursory questions about their situation before agreeing to sell the baby boy.

On the day the baby boy and two other children were supposed to be transferred from the hospital to a state-run children’s home, Leparan was filmed falsifying the transfer paperwork so that the home would expect two children, rather than three.

The BBC team ensured that all three children were delivered directly to the children’s home, but filmed Leparan amending the paperwork and informing them that the child was theirs to take away.

A Kenyan court on Wednesday said Leparan will serve 25 years in prison, then spend 10 years on probation.

Adundo, who also worked at the hospital, was convicted of three counts of child neglect but was acquitted of child trafficking.

The court has cautioned that both Leparan and Adun­do should never be allowed to handle any matters relating to children.

This case has dragged on for more than two years despite really strong evidence against Leparan.

He was able to retain one of the best legal defences in Ken­ya but eventually ac­knowledged that it was him in the undercover footage by the BBC.

There are few reliable statistics on the extent of child trafficking in Kenya.

According to the country’s Labour and Social Protection Minister, Florence Bore, more than 6,000 children were reported missing between July 2022 and May 2023.

Earlier this week, Ms Bore said the government would abolish all privately owned orphanages and children’s homes within the next eight years – a move aimed at ending child trafficking.

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