Algeria doctor jailed for child-trafficking to France

Map of Algiers, Saint-Etienne

An Algerian doctor has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for abducting children born to single mothers and selling them in France for adoption.

An Algiers court found Khelifa Hanouti guilty of illegally transferring children to the city of Saint-Etienne.

A notary received five years for his involvement. Another six people were jailed in absentia to 10 years.

The case came to light in 2009 after a woman died during an abortion at an illegal clinic belonging to Hanouti.

In total, 13 people had gone on trial for allegedly belonging to a child trafficking ring composed of both French and Algerian nationals.

In Tuesday's ruling, one defendant was acquitted, while the remaining four were given suspended jail sentences. All those sentenced also received fines.

The six jailed in absentia are French suspects of Algerian origin currently living in Saint-Etienne.

Falsified documents

Hanouti was arrested in 2009 after Algeria's security services dismantled the network thought to have been operating since the 1990s.

He was accused of impersonating an obstetrician and running an abortion clinic in the Algiers suburb of Ain Taya.

Abortion is illegal in Algeria.

Prosecutors argued that the doctor illegally transported children abroad with the help of the notary, who falsified "disclaimer" documents signed by single mothers.

The investigation has so far been unable to determine the exact number of children involved.

The security services reportedly discovered 12 "adoption certificates" at a nursery in the Algiers suburb of El-Biar written between 2005 and 2006, with nine children sent abroad for a sum of money.

Hanouti had already been prosecuted in 2002 for performing illegal abortions and served nine months of a two-year jail term.