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Page last updated at 21:41 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 22:41 UK

Egypt tries US adoption bid pair

A US couple, Iris Botros and Louis Andros, have gone on trial in Egypt charged with child trafficking after trying to adopt newborn twins.

The couple, who own a Greek restaurant in North Carolina, tried for years to have a child and attempted to adopt in the US where they married 15 years ago.

But the age of Mr Andros, 70, and other factors stood in their way.

A Cairo orphanage is alleged to have given them the twins, forging papers showing Iris Botros to be the mother.

The couple took the babies, named Victoria and Alexander, from the Coptic Christian orphanage back to a temporary home in Cairo while they tried to get American passports for them.

But a US Embassy employee became suspicious and, faced with a DNA test, Ms Botros finally admitted she was not the biological mother.

The couple were then turned over to Egyptian police and face up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Orphanage 'donation'

In the tangle of Egypt's complicated legal system even lawyers are unsure whether adoption in this country is legal or not, the BBC's Christian Fraser reports from Cairo.

Islamic law forbids it but the law is less clear when it comes to the Coptic Christian minority.

Adoptions within the Christian community do take place but they usually involves bribes and forgeries.

In this case, the court heard that a Coptic orphanage in Cairo had supplied forged documents that Iris Botros had given birth to twins.

In turn, the couple donated $4,500 to the orphanage.

Friends of the couple say they were not aware they were doing anything wrong.

They had reportedly asked if the process was legal and were assured that it was.

The authorities have been known to turn a blind eye to this in the past but this case involving an American couple is perhaps being used to show the government is tough on child trafficking, our correspondent says.

Certainly it has sparked a wider debate with one MP calling for Egypt to reconsider the laws pertaining to orphans and adoption.



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