Thailand court gives Japanese man custody of his 13 surrogate babies

Kong Suriyamontol

Thailand court gives Japanese man custody of his 13 surrogate babies

"For the happiness and opportunities which the 13 children will receive from their biological father, who does not have a history of bad behaviour, the court rules that all 13 born from surrogacy be legal children of the plaintiff", the court said.

A Bangkok court yesterday granted him legal rights to take the children, saying he had ample money to care for them and had prepared nurses and nannies at a safe residence in Japan.

Mr Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, became the centre of a "baby factory" scandal in 2014 after Thai police said DNA samples linked him to nine infants found under the care of 24-hour nannies in a plush Bangkok apartment.

The court also found that the man, who currently lives in Japan, plans to bring all his children - now around 4 years old - to his home country where it says he plans to enroll them in an worldwide school and open bank accounts for them.

Thailand banned foreign surrogacy in response to the 2014 incident, and another infamous case where an Australian couple abandoned a baby born to a Thai surrogate when they discovered the baby had Down syndrome.

Mr Shigeta, who was not present at the trial, was awarded "sole parent" rights after the Thai surrogates forfeited their rights, according to the court, which did not name him.

Shigeta, son of billionaire businessman Yasumitsu Shigeta, said through his lawyers that he simply wanted a big family, the AP reported.

The case has also spurred a crackdown on Thailand's largely uncontrolled surrogacy business.

The court gave no further details about the man, but said he plans to raise the 13 children, all aged about four, in Japan where he lives, adding that he had previously raised other surrogate children in Cambodia and Japan.

It said DNA evidence confirmed that Shigeta is the children's' father, and that he plans to send the children to an global school and has bought a piece of land to house them next to a large park in central Tokyo, where they will be looked after by nurses and nannies.

Shigeta, reportedly the son of a Japanese IT tycoon, left the country in the wake of the scandal and has never directly explained why he fathered so many children.

Thai authorities investigated Shigeta for human trafficking and child exploitation, but filed no charges. It was determined that Shigeta had fathered the children using Thai surrogate mothers.

The mothers were paid as much as $12,500 each to carry his children, reports said. In recent months there have been signs the trade has shifted to Laos, an opaque communist country with no restrictions on surrogacy.

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