(JTA) — Romanian police reportedly detained two Israel medical professionals suspected of illegally harvesting eggs from local women.
Dr. Rapahel Ron-El, a fertility specialist and director of the in vitro fertilization unit at Assaf Harofeh Hospital in central Israel, and Daphna Komarovsky, a technician, were released to house arrest at their hotel in Bucharest on Wednesday following their arrest the previous day, according to the news website of the Romanian television station Realitatea and the news site Observator.ro.
Unnamed sources from Romania’s DIICOT serious crimes police unit said the two Israelis are suspected of “recruiting young students in the province in need of cash and offering them $180-$240 for harvesting their eggs, which they allegedly then sold for $4,000-$5,300 to couples seeking in vitro fertilization.”
Ron-El and Komarovsky are suspected of “trafficking human cells” and “belonging to an organized criminal group,” police sources are quoted as saying, and may not leave Romania. According to the statement, they conducted their activities along with nine others from Med New Life, a private clinic in Bucharest.
The report did not say where the fertilization treatments were conducted and whether the eggs were taken out of Romania.
“Professor Ron-El is among the leading doctors in his field and is known for his personal and professional integrity,” a statement from Assaf Harofeh Hospital read. “We are certain of his innocence and that of Ms. Komarovsky and hope to see them in Israel at the earliest possible date."
In 2009, Romanian authorities arrested some 30 Israelis and locals in a raid on another clinic, Sabyc. Four Israelis were released, but they were tried and sentenced in absentia to five years in prison for illegal trade in human eggs, Haaretz reported.