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Mar 23, 2023
Nigerian Senator Found Guilty of Organ Harvesting Plot in UK
(Bloomberg) -- A Nigerian politician and his wife were found guilty by a London jury of plotting to bring a Lagos street trader to the UK in order to harvest one of his organs for their sick daughter.
Ike Ekweremadu, a senior Nigerian senator, and his wife Beatrice were on trial for conspiring together between August 2021 and May 2022 to bring a man from Nigeria to London to exploit him into donating his kidney to their 25-year-old daughter Sonia, who suffers from a kidney condition.
The couple and Obinna Obeta, described by prosecutors as a “medically qualified middle-man” who helped the family, were found guilty by the jury at the Old Bailey on Thursday following a six-week trial. Sonia, who was also on the indictment, was found not guilty by the jury.
Spokespeople for the Nigerian senate and the Peoples Democratic Party, Ekweremadu’s political party, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 5.
Prosecutors described at the opening of the trial how the Lagos man, who cannot be named, was selling telephone parts from a cart in public markets for a few British pounds a day before he was brought into the scheme. The alleged agreement was that he would donate a kidney to Sonia in return for as much as £7,000 ($8,625), plus the promise of work in the UK. The transplant never took place after London doctors blocked it from going ahead.
“The convicted defendants showed utter disregard for the victim’s welfare, health and wellbeing and used their considerable influence to a high degree of control throughout, with the victim having limited understanding of what was really going on here,” said Joanne Jakymec, the chief crown prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service.
Although it’s not illegal to donate an organ in the UK, it’s illegal to do so for a payment or reward. This was the first case of its kind under the country’s modern slavery laws.
--With assistance from William Clowes.
(Updates with a comment from the CPS in the sixth paragraph)
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