A court in Valenica has sentenced a millionaire Lebanese politician to eight months in jail for offering poor people up to EUR 40,000 in exchange for their liver.
The court handed wealthy defendant Hatem Akouche, his son, and three other collaborators prison terms ranging from eight to 39 months.
Judges heard how they had attempted to purchase a liver for an illegal transplant by offering hard-up individuals as much as EUR 40,000.
After nearly a decade of legal proceedings, the defendants were convicted of promoting, aiding, or facilitating illegal transplantation of other people’s organs.
The events took place in 2013, when Akouche, a businessman and politician from Lebanon, was suffering from a liver disease.
His son underwent tests to determine if he would be a suitable donor, but medics told him his liver was very small and that the procedure could harm his health.
Akouche then asked for help from two of his nephews and an acquaintance – all Lebanese nationals – residing in Spain.
They, in turn, contacted and met with financially-needy people to offer them cash and other rewards to become organ donors.
They even accompanied some of the potential donors to a clinic in Valencia to undergo tests, with the costs covered by Akouche’s nephews’ company.
One potential donor went with the men to a clinic in the Navarra region and a hospital in Barcelona.
There, he pretended to be a “friend of a friend” and claimed he was donating his organ for free out of altruism.
But he was turned away in both cases, as doctors found his behaviour suspicious.
After their efforts failed, Akouche’s son, acting on new medical advice, donated his liver in a legal transplantation procedure on 26th August 2013.
The court sentenced one of the intermediaries to three years and three months in prison due to the “crucial role” he played in the scheme and the “profit motive”.
The two nephews were handed jail terms of three years and one day, while the millionaire’s son was given one year, six months, and one day behind bars.
The court gave the politician eight months and one day in prison, with judges taking into account his “life-threatening situation” at the time.
The sentence is not final and may be appealed.