An Italian gynecologist has been arrested. He is accused of persuading a woman not to have an abortion but to continue with the pregnancy so he could sell her baby.
Police evidence suggests that Andrea Cozzolino, 57, talked the 17-year-old girl into keeping the child two years ago, telling her he would pass it on to a childless couple. It is claimed that he didn't tell her that he would actually pocket €25,000 from the deal.
Caserta's deputy police chief Alessandro Tocco says that the woman was delayed in getting a legal abortion because of her age and her refusal to allow her parents to be informed. She eventually saw Dr Cozzolino when she was six months into her pregnancy, believing he might be willing to perform an illegal abortion.
When she told him she could not afford the €6,000 fee for the termination, Cozzolino reportedly offered to deliver the baby for free at the Santa Lucia di San Giuseppe Vesuviano clinic if she then allowed him to put it up for adoption.
Dr Cozzolino arranged for the adoptive mother to be at the hospital when the girl gave birth, and the newborn was passed to her immediately.
The story only came to light when the biological mother discovered that the baby was registered as hers on local birth records. She then made up a story that she had been raped to explain her pregnancy, which led to an investigation. The baby was removed from the adoptive family, and placed with another couple.
The original adopters were recorded by police as they demanded their money back from Dr Cozzolino. He said he had used it to pay of gambling debts and there was nothing left.
The Independent reports that the 54-year-old man and 48-year-old woman are now being investigated for breaching Italy's adoption laws alongside the doctor.