A Thai court has given a wealthy Japanese businessman sole custody of 13 children he fathered through surrogates in Thailand.
Shigeta is the son of an owner of a Japanese company and earns over 100 million baht (US$3.1 million) in annual dividends, which shows he is financially capable of looking after the children, the court said in a statement. The case helped usher in a ban on commercial surrogacy for foreign clients.
The children were estimated to be between two weeks and two years old at the time and have since been under the care of the Thai state, while another four were later deemed to have been fathered by him.
Bangkok's Central Juvenile Court on Tuesday upheld his claim after Thai officials checked that he had enough carers and facilities to give the children a good home.
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Mr Shigeta fled Thailand in 2015 following a raid on his luxury Bangkok apartment, where police found nine babies, aged between six months and a year, several maids, and one pregnant Thai woman....
Shigeta fathered 17 children in total via surrogacy in Thailand before 2015.
The ruling said Shigeta had a right to custody because the children were born before the new law was enacted, and because the surrogate mothers signed documents waiving their custody rights.
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The case of the surrogate babies came to light in 2014 when the police said they found 16 babies the man fathered with surrogate mothers in Thailand, BBC reported.
Thai authorities investigated Shigeta for human trafficking and child exploitation, but filed no charges.
The court was told Shigeta now plans to take the children to Japan, where he and his family have already bought a piece of land near a big public park in Tokyo to build a house.
His lawyer, Kong Suriyamonthon, said his reason for having so many children is for "personal and business reasons".
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