Bangkok: Thai authorities have said a probe into the case of a 24-year-old Japanese man, who allegedly fathered nine surrogate children, could turn out to be a human trafficking investigation.
Shigeta Mitsutoki flew out of the country after he was identified as the father of babies living in a condominium in Lat Phrao district here.
The case came to light soon after an Australian couple abandoned their baby with his Thai surrogate mother upon discovering the child had Down syndrome. They took the healthy twin of the baby back to Australia.
A police investigation found that Mitsutoki had travelled in and out of Thailand 65 times during the past two years.
Shigeta, according to sources, left Thailand for Cambodia on July 6 with a child and returned on July 27 alone.
He earlier had entered the country on March 25 via Cambodia alone and left shortly for Cambodia with a child.
Police want to conduct DNA tests to verify the paternity claim and make sure there were no other hidden agenda in the surrogacy arrangements, media reports here said.
The discovery of the nine babies is fuelling suspicions about the surrogacy business is being exploited by human traffickers.
The babies, six boys and three girls, aged from two weeks to two years, reportedly look very different.
Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Aek Angsananont said police were tracking down the surrogate mothers for questioning after police identified some of them from hospital documents.
Thai authorities are also trying to verify the identity of the Japanese man in question since they have found there are many Japanese men going by the same name.
Wichian Chaowalit, permanent secretary for Social Development and Human Security, yesterday said police will have to establish if the surrogate mothers and surrogacy agencies are aware the children were destined for human trafficking.
He said if the surrogates and the clinics knew from the start they are more likely to face charges under the anti-human trafficking law.
Meanwhile, experts here said a draft legislation to regulate surrogacy and assisted reproductive services was crucial to ensuring the well-being of the children involved.
The bill, known as the Protection of Children Born as a Result of Assisted Reproductive Technologies Act, will ensure that babies born to surrogate mothers will be legally recognised as the child of the commissioning parents, and place restrictions on surrogacy services.
The military junta`s National Council for Peace and Order announced it would fast-track the legislation, forwarding it to the junta`s social and psychological affairs section for further consideration before proposing the bill to the National Legislative Assembly.