China doctor jailed for selling babies to traffickers

The BBC's Celia Hatton: "Zhang Shuxia was a respected doctor who had won quite a few awards in the province where she worked"

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A Chinese obstetrician has been given a suspended death sentence for stealing newborn babies and selling them to child traffickers.

Zhang Shuxia was found guilty of abducting and selling seven babies in Fuping, Shaanxi province, the sentencing court said.

She told parents their infants had serious diseases and convinced them to give up the babies, the court said.

Zhang has been sentenced to death, with a two year reprieve.

Suspended death sentences are normally commuted to life imprisonment in China.

Zhang sold seven babies to child traffickers between November 2011 and July 2013, including a pair of twins, a judgement posted on the Weinan Intermediate People's Court's verified microblog on Tuesday said.

Six of the babies were rescued, but one baby girl died.

'Fabricated reports'

Zhang worked in Shaanxi's Fuping Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospital.

"Zhang used her position as medical personnel to fabricate reports about the infants, saying they suffered from birth defects or diseases that were hard to cure," the court said in its judgement.

Zhang Shuxia stands trial in Weinan Intermediate People's Court in Weinan, Shaanxi province, 30 December 2013 Obstetrician Zhang Shuxia sold seven babies to traffickers, the court said

"She abducted and sold several new-born infants, violating professional and social ethics," the judgement added.

It is not yet clear whether Zhang will appeal, the court said.

Zhang and several other suspects were arrested after the most recent abduction case in July.

The parents reported the case to police after they suspected their baby had been trafficked.

The baby was found and returned to his parents in early August.

Police said they were still investigating 50 related cases, including 26 cases linked to Zhang, and several other suspects were in criminal detention, Xinhua news agency reported.

Four other officials from the hospital are on trial for suspected dereliction of duty and are awaiting sentencing, Xinhua added.

'Unspeakable acts'

Under China's strict population control policies, most couples can only have one child, and there is a strong preference for healthy baby boys.

Earlier this month, China's top legislature formally adopted a resolution easing the country's one-child policy, allowing couples to have two children if either parent is an only child.

On Chinese social media, netizens condemned Zhang's actions, with many calling for the death penalty.

"She obliterated her humanity, and conducted unspeakable acts under a cloak of legality - only executing her will level the people's anger!" microblog user China Luo Jian wrote.

However, user Wen Jin Rang wrote: "For such a criminal, sparing her life will serve a greater educational purpose than killing her."

Meanwhile, Sina Weibo user Doctor Fei Ge described Zhang as the "scum of the medical profession, who damaged the reputation of doctors".

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