SL court frees baby charge nun

A Sri Lankan court has released a senior nun from Mother Teresa's charity who was on bail suspected of selling babies for adoption.

No charges will be laid against Sister Mary Eliza, who is an Indian national.

The Missionaries of Charity convent she heads near Colombo was raided by the Sri Lankan authorities last month.

The church always denied any wrongdoing, saying children and mothers are looked after at the shelter which is registered for this purpose.

The state body responsible for child protection told the magistrate that, on the instructions of the attorney-general, no charges would be brought against Sister Mary Eliza.

The Criminal Investigation Department, which questioned 55 people, concluded that there were no grounds to charge her with selling children or with failing to report under-age pregnancies.

It said all adoption procedures run by the sisters were fully legal.

Sister Mary Eliza was present in the court.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo says her situation, including the three days she spent on remand in prison earlier, was unprecedented for the famous order of nuns founded by Mother Teresa 64 years ago.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, had announced a boycott of state events in protest at the handling of the affair.

The Sri Lankan media had produced a series of lurid reports on a possible "baby farm" or the selling of disabled children abroad for the farming of their organs. All such reports and rumour have now been found to be false, our correspondent says.
Neville Abeyratne, lawyer for Sister Mary Eliza, told the BBC that the CID investigation found there had been, "no illegal activities whatsoever".

"All adoptions were done according to the law and the legal process," he quoted them as saying.
Mr. Abeyratne said all confiscated documents, including Sister Mary Eliza's passport, had been returned to the nuns.

She was "really happy to have been discharged and exonerated", he said. (Source: BBC)

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