Kenya arrests four more after BBC Africa Eye baby stealers exposé

media captionAnita offers to sell a stolen child for 80,000 Kenyan shillings

Police in Kenya have arrested four more people for allegedly running a child-trafficking syndicate following a BBC investigation into the theft and sale of babies.

BBC Africa Eye revealed children were stolen to order from illegal clinics and at a Nairobi public hospital.

Seven people are now in custody in connection with the case including medics and a hospital administrator.

The babies were sold for as little as $400 (£300).

In the wake of the BBC Africa Eye story, police chief Hillary Mutyambai ordered an investigation into hospitals, as well as children's homes in the Kenyan capital.

Two hospital administrators, a nurse and a social worker appeared in court on Thursday, adding to the three senior medical officials who were in court on Wednesday.

They have not been formally charged and did not enter pleas.

BBC Africa Eye uncovered a trade in children stolen from vulnerable mothers living on the streets, as well as the existence of illegal clinics dotted around Nairobi, where babies were being sold.

The investigation also revealed alleged corruption at Mama Lucy Kibaki, a public hospital in Nairobi.

image captionThree senior medical officers were in court on Wednesday

Fred Leparan, a clinical social worker at the hospital, is alleged to have facilitated the sale of an abandoned two-week-old baby boy to undercover reporters, later accepting 300,000 shillings ($2,700; £2,000) in cash.

Both Mr Leparan and Mama Lucy Kibaki hospital declined requests to comment on the investigation's findings.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Kenya's Labour and Social Protection Minister Simon Chelugui said the culprits would face the "full force of the law".

image captionThe suspects have not commented on the allegations against them

Mr Chelugui also acknowledged that improvements to some of Kenya's child protection services were needed.

His colleague in the Interior Ministry Fred Matiang'i thanked the BBC for exposing the "rot" at Mama Lucy hospital. He added that human and drug trafficking were the biggest challenges Kenyan security was dealing with.

There are no reliable statistics on child trafficking in the East African state, but a non-governmental organisation, Missing Child Kenya, said it had been involved in nearly 600 cases in the past three years.

Kenyans want answers

Ferdinand Omondi, BBC News, Kenya

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say the BBC exposé caught the government unawares.

On the day it was published, state officials including the inspector general of police, the labour and social protection minister and the government spokesman held an emergency meeting.

The next day, three arrests were made and police acknowledged there was a crime ring involving medical officers and child traffickers. Three suspects were immediately hauled to court - all medical officers. The interior minister was impressed by this efficiency and praised the decisive action.

But Kenyans were livid. Did the police have to wait for the BBC investigate for them? How high does the syndicate go? Will they get convictions?

These were some of the questions Kenyans asked, in a guarded response to the legal process which has just began, which many hope will ultimately paralyse one of Kenya's biggest crimes - human trafficking.

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