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In China, doctor who sold patients' newborns given suspended death sentence

By Katie Hunt and Feng Ke, CNN
January 14, 2014 -- Updated 0552 GMT (1352 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A Chinese obstetrician has been sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve
  • Zhang Shuxia was convicted of trafficking seven babies between 2011 and 2013
  • She told her patients they should give up their newborns because they were sick
  • She sold them to traffickers for around $2,500 to $3,500 each

(CNN) -- A Chinese obstetrician convicted of selling babies after telling their parents they were sick has been given a suspended death sentence, China's Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday.

Zhang Shuxia, a maternity doctor at a hospital in Shaanxi province, in central China, sold seven babies to a trafficking ring in six separate cases from November 2011 to July 2013, according to statements posted on the official microblog account of the local court.

She persuaded her patients that their newborns were sick and they should give them up, according to the Weinan Intermediate People's Court. One baby died after being sold.

Xinhua said the death penalty had a two-year reprieve, which typically means her sentence is likely to be life imprisonment if she doesn't commit any crimes during that period.

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The ring was exposed in July when a mother surnamed Dong told police she suspected her baby had been abducted after Zhang told her that her child had a congenital disease, Xinhua reported when Zhang went on trial in December.

"The doctor told me that my son could not go to school and might endanger society as his mother was infected with syphilis and hepatitis," Xinhua quoted the father as saying.

The court heard that Zhang sold the baby the same night for $3,500 to an individual identified as Pan in neighboring Shanxi province. Pan sold the baby onto a villager in Henan province for 59,800 yuan ($9,900.)

The baby was found and returned to his parents on August 5.

MORE: Twin baby girls rescued as trafficking probe continues

Twin baby girls, which Zhang sold for 30,000 yuan ($5,000) in May 2013, were reunited their parents in August after their mother Wang Yanyan filed a complaint.

Zhang told her the twins had serious health issues and would be brain damaged or paralyzed.

"I never suspected that she was selling my babies, because she was a family friend," Wang told CNN in August.

Nine suspects were detained including Zhang, who pleaded guilty and expressed remorse in court.

"I am deeply sorry for the pain I have brought to those families and beg for forgiveness," said Zhang.

The court said in a statement it believed Zhang should receive a severe penalty: "Her actions violated professional ethics and social morals. Although she partly admits her guilt, her case is considered serious."

The court did not say whether Zhang would appeal.

Katie Hunt reported and wrote from Hong Kong. Feng Ke reported from Beijing.

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