Villager on trial for human trafficking

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A villager from North China's Hebei province stood trial in Beijing's Xicheng district court on Monday on charges of child trafficking, the court said.

The 47-year-old accused, surnamed Ren, is a migrant worker in Beijing, the prosecutor told the court.

He has been accused of stealing a baby from a hospital for his fellow townsman, Zhao Baoqiang, who temporarily works with an insurance company in Hebei, the prosecutor said.

Zhao, who already had a son, asked Ren to help find a girl to adopt and promised to pay him 10,000 yuan ($1,480) as a reward, Guo Yajun, the judge from the criminal tribunal court that handled the case, told China Daily on Monday.

On March 12 this year, Ren went to the Beijing Children's Hospital in Xicheng district and came across Yan Weiwei, a four-year-old girl, who was suffering with a severe cough and high fever, Guo said.

Yan was diagnosed with bronchitis and needed an immediate transfusion, but there was no vacant ward, so she had to have an infusion on a seat in the corridor. Her parents were sleeping on the ground outside the ward, according to Guo.

Ren noticed the father sleeping and made off with the little girl. He called Zhao and asked him to come to Beijing, agreeing to meet that night in Liuliqiao, Guo said.

When they met, Zhao, concerned whether the girl was acquired illegally, asked to see Yan's parents to make sure whether they had agreed to the adoption, Guo said.

Ren then called his brother and asked him to pretend to be the girl's father, but his brother refused. At last, Ren failed to make the deal with Zhao, according to Guo.

On March 13, Ren was taking Yan back to Hebei when he was arrested.

No verdict was given on Monday.

According to Guo, suspects convicted of trafficking women and children face five to 10 years in prison and, possibly, even a life sentence.

In China, 30,000 to 60,000 children are reported missing every year, but it is hard to estimate how many are cases of human trafficking, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

"The increasing number of trafficking cases in China is the result of a big buyer's market, existing loopholes in social management and services, as well as unbalanced regional economic development," said Chen Shiqu, director of the anti-human-trafficking office under the ministry.

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