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EGYPT: Two American couples sentenced to two years for illegal adoption

September 18, 2009 | 12:00 pm


In the first case of its kind in Egypt, two American couples were sentenced to two years in prison and fined 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($18,200) per person after being convicted of illegal adoption by Cairo's criminal court earlier this week.

Iris Botrous and Luis Andraws, and Suzan Hagoulf and spouse Medhat Metyas were arrested in December after the U.S. embassy in Cairo grew suspicious of their children's birth certificates. The Christian couples were attempting to obtain American passports for babies they bought from an Egyptian orphanage.

Adoption is prohibited by the Islamic Sharia law upon which much of Egypt's civil and criminal laws are based. Judicial authorities permit adoption in certain instances, providing the adopting couple is Egyptian and children don’t take their surnames. Adopted minors are also not allowed to leave the country.

The trial of the couples began in May. Other defendants included seven Egyptians working for the orphanage, which is affiliated with the Coptic Christian church. The court found that the orphanage, its employees and a doctor were paid $4,500 by Botrous and Andraws for twins and forged birth certificates. Hagoulf and Metyas received a baby boy. 

All Egyptians accused received jail verdicts between two to five years plus fines.

The defendants' lawyers argued that their clients should not be considered criminals, even under Egyptian law, which generally allows Christians to follow the rules of their faith on issues of personal status, such as marriage and divorce and family matters. The couples' lawyers are planning an appeal.

The case has prompted many Egyptian Copts to question the effect Islamic laws have on their lives.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Iris Botrous, center, Luis Andraws, left, and Suzan Hagoulf, right. Credit: Ben Curtis / Associated Press