Top Italian fertility doctor Severino Antinori arrested

Severino Antinori in 2000
Image caption Dr Antinori has complained about curbs on his research

Well-known Italian fertility doctor Severino Antinori has been arrested after a woman said he had forcibly removed eggs from her at his clinic.

Dr Antinori has been placed under house arrest and banned from practising pending a police investigation.

The complaint, rejected by the doctor's lawyers, was made by a 24-year-old Spanish woman.

Dr Antinori shot to fame in the 1990s when he helped a woman give birth at 63, a first at the time.

The 70-year-old was arrested at Rome's Fiumicino airport and is now under house arrest in the Italian capital.

According to Italian investigators, the Spanish woman, who was temporarily working at Dr Antinori's Matris clinic in Milan, had her mobile phone taken and was forcibly immobilised and anaesthetised before her eggs were harvested.

Lawyers for Dr Antinori, nicknamed the "grandmothers' obstetrician", said the doctor was an innocent victim of extortion.

Prosecutors believe his may not be an isolated case, according to the Italian media.

Donata Lenzi, an Italian MP, said: "The arrest of Severino Antinori is extremely serious because it indicates the existence of a market in eggs that will not stop at anything."

Dr Antinori became famous worldwide in 1994 when he gave fertility treatment to Rossana Della Corte, an Italian who at the time became the oldest woman to give birth.

He also helped Patricia Rashbrook, who became the UK's oldest mother in 2006.

In 2003, the controversial doctor said Italian authorities were persecuting him over his human cloning projects.

This followed his announcement that one of his patients would give birth to a cloned baby.

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