A Lebanese multimillionaire has been sentenced to eight months in prison by the Provincial Court of Valencia after attempting to buy a liver.
Hatem Akkouche, former mayor of the Lebanese city of Al Kharayeb, spoke to two nephews living in Novelda, Alicante to search for a compatible liver in 2013. His family members began searching for possible candidates via NGOs that support refugees.
The Lebanese politician, who is 69 years old, suffered from liver disease and had been hailed a local hero in his constituency after undergoing surgery.
Akkouche offered 40,000 euros to anyone who could help him overcome his incurable liver disease.
An NGO worker alerted authorities to the illicit activities after discovering that a 28-year-old Algerian woman living in Valencia had been offered money in exchange for her liver. The process went as far as the woman undergoing various hospital tests to check compatibility.
Police have confirmed that those involved were actively looking for organs in Spain and had chosen nine people with limited financial means to assess whether their liver would be a match for the former Lebanese mayor. One of the people selected was a pregnant woman.
Eventually no-one wanted to assume the risk and the surgery was carried out using Akkouche’s son’s liver, legally and free of charge at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.
The former mayor was detained upon his return to Valencia for a check up in 2014.
Five people were sentenced to prison in relation to the crimes. Akkouche was sentenced to eight months, his son to one and a half years and one of the intermediaries involved to three years and three months because of his ‘crucial role’ and ‘profit motive’. All were found guilty of promoting and facilitating the illegal transfer of foreign human organs.
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