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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 February, 2005, 07:16 GMT
Tsunami baby under police guard
Junitha Jeyarajah and Baby 81
Junitha Jeyarajah holds Baby 81 at the Kalmunai hospital
Sri Lanka's "Baby 81", who is being claimed by a couple after December's tsunami, has been given police protection, officials say.

This follows an alleged attempt by the couple to snatch the four-month-old boy from a hospital on Wednesday.

A court in the eastern town of Kalmunai has ordered a DNA test to determine the parents of "Baby 81".

Murugupillai Jeyarajah and wife Junitha stormed into the hospital to claim the baby. They were later freed on bail.

The baby became a symbol of tsunami suffering after it was found under debris and claimed by nine couples.

Taking no chances

However, police say the Jeyarajahs alone have made a formal legal claim.

"The baby is currently under tight police protection at the (Kalmunai) hospital," Dr K Muhunthan told the AFP news agency.
There is no need for a DNA test, this is our son. This is not justice
Junitha Jeyarajah

"After what happened yesterday we are not taking any chances."

The court said on Thursday that the DNA test will be carried out in a laboratory in Colombo, some 380km (237 miles) from Kalmunai, on 9 February.

The court will reconvene on 20 April to hear the case, the judge said.

The baby has been kept in the custody of the hospital after the alleged snatch attempt by the couple on Wednesday.

"Baby 81" is so named because he was the 81st patient to be admitted to the hospital on the day the tsunami struck.


The Jeyarajahs have said they were confident of being united with the four-month-old boy, who they maintain is their son, Abhilasha, born on 19 October 2004.

The court had ordered two weeks ago that the baby be handed to his parents as soon he was well enough. Doctors said then he was too ill to be discharged from hospital.

Baby 81 has become a visible symbol of the disaster that hit Sri Lanka and other Asian countries on 26 December.

More than 30,000 people were killed by the tsunami in Sri Lanka. Children are believed to make up about 40% of the dead.

The tsunami left about 1,000 orphans in the country, according to data quoted by the UN's children's charity, Unicef.


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