U.S. couples accused of buying babies plead not guilty

Two U.S. couples pleaded not guilty on Saturday to charges of buying babies in Egypt for illegal adoption, a lawyer and judicial sources said.

“They all said they are not guilty,” said Sameh Ahmed Saleh, a lawyer for Louis Andros and Iris Botros, one of the couples. The judge ordered the trial to begin on May 16, he said.

Egyptian prosecutors in January charged 11 people in the suspected scheme, including a third U.S. couple believed to be in the United States with the baby they obtained in Egypt.

The two couples are in custody in Egypt and were among those accused of taking part in purchasing children for sums of up to 20,000 Egyptian pounds (2,579 pounds) for a girl and 25,000 pounds for a boy.

The third couple and an Egyptian doctor were charged in absentia, the judicial sources said.

The others charged in the case, including doctors, nurses, and a tourist guide, also denied the charges against them, the judicial sources said.

Egypt does not generally allow its children to be adopted by foreign nationals, and it is also rare for Egyptians to gain permanent legal guardianship of children not born to their families due to social, religious and legal strictures.

The case, which involves four infants, came to light after an Egyptian and her American husband approached the U.S. embassy in Cairo to arrange to take two of the babies out of Egypt.

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