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Egyptian authorities accuse Durham couple of human trafficking

Posted March 16, 2009

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— A Durham couple pleaded not guilty in an Egyptian court Saturday to charges that they tried to buy babies and forge birth certificates.

Egypt accuses Durham couple of trying to buy babies Egypt officials say Durham couple tried to buy babies

About three months ago, Louis Andros and Iris Botros, who own Zorba's Greek restaurant on N.C. Highway 55, went to Botros' native Egypt to adopt a 3-month-old boy and girl.

But when they went to the U.S. Embassy to get papers to bring the children home, embassy staffers called Egyptian authorities. Police arrested the couple on charges of trying to buy children, using forged documents and helping to forge documents.

"Our American Embassy, you know, instead of helping us, put us in jail," Andros told CNN.

On Saturday, the couple appeared in a Cairo courtroom, handcuffed and inside a cage, CNN reported.

"You know, it's mind boggling," their friend, David Barnette, said in Durham.

The couple had struggled with infertility for years, and Botros began working with an Egyptian church to arrange the adoption. However, adoption was made illegal in Egypt last year and violates Islamic law – facts that Botros said she and her husband didn't know.

"They had been dreaming of children. ... They are now in jail because of this dream," said the couple's lawyer, Sameh Ahmed Saleh. "They didn't know they were making something against the law in Egypt."

Botros is a green-card resident of the U.S., and Andros is a naturalized U.S. citizen who immigrated from Greece when he was 15 years old.

"Adoption is legal in the Christian religion. And because she's lived in the U.S.for 15 years, both ways, she couldn't realize she was doing something wrong," Saleh said.

Egyptian authorities also arrested two other couples as part of beginning a wider crackdown on human trafficking.

"We will not get a fair trial," Botros said.

If found guilty, Andros and Botros could spend 15 years in an Egyptian prison. They will remain in a jail until their next court appearance on May 16.

Meanwhile, their friends say, their restaurant is struggling to survive without them.

"It's hard to believe they can't come back," Barnette said.

The children in all the cases have been returned to their orphanages.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Eduardo1 Mar 17, 2009

    It is obvious, that we do not have all of the facts, because this does not pass the SMELL test. a) if it is illegal, why did the church allow it? b) if it is illegal, why then did the embassy not tell the couple, instead of the Egyptian authorities? c) where is our new & improved State Dept? no question, we are not getting the entire story!

  • didisaythat Mar 17, 2009

    I love the people who without evidence think both gov't bodies are wrong and this poor couple just made a mistake. People if it is just a mistake then it is corrected. This gov't, I know, does not on a whim arrest people. I cannot speak for Egypt, but, members of our embassy obtained information that made them call Egyptian authorities, and with some kind of an investigation it was determined they were breaking the law. Why is this so difficult to understand. In my experience with criminal law 99.9% of the people arrested in this country are guilty of the crime they are charged with. Unfortunatley with the liberal lawyers and judges I would hate to see how few are convicted. Not because they didn't do the crime, but because the prosocution's burden of proof has become so incredibly high that soon no one will be able to be prosecuted.

  • JuanGrande v3.0 Mar 17, 2009

    This whole thing doesn't pass the smell test. Somethime is seriously screwy here.

  • news4u Mar 17, 2009

    Watch the Muslims enforce the law.

  • CrewMax Mar 17, 2009

    Unbelievable. What good is tis government of ours, if not here to serve?

  • Justin T. Mar 17, 2009

    I believe the couple broke the law intentionally, as well.

    I have a few friends and acquaintances that have pursued adoption and what they found was that to get a baby you have to move mountains!

    One couple spent 60K to get a baby and had to overcome obstacle after obstacle to seal the deal. I think this couple was pursuing a way "around" the system.

    I don't blame them but it's still illegal.

  • Soulbait Mar 17, 2009

    Perhaps, in their ignorance, they thought that you received an updated Birth Certificate once the adoption was complete? She did try cover it up, briefly, at the U.S. Embassy, but once they were questioning her, she told them about the adoption.

    I really think that it was out of ignorance, not becuase they were trying to do something illegal. Hopefully the Egyptian courts will see this and limit their punishment. Also, the link that I posted, states that the person who was their contact in Egypt was arrested as well. Perhaps when more evidence is brought about, that person will be the one found most at fault.

    I believe that this couple has found out that IGNORANCE IS NOT ALWAYS BLISS. Especially when you end up in a foreign country's prison system.

    (caps added for emphasis, I really wish we could bold text)

  • Soulbait Mar 17, 2009

    A different article on this:


  • Lightfoot3 Mar 17, 2009

    “Forged paperwork tells the whole story...they absolutely knew what they were trying to do was wrong.” - lovecarolinagutters

    Bingo! Ignorance of the law is one thing, but the forged paperwork is the key to the story.

  • imranaukhil Mar 17, 2009

    As is often the case with WRAL and many other news agencies in the US, there is a lot of information left out or manipulated. Islam highly encourages the care and support of orphans. Adoption is highly emphasized in Islam, as the Prophet Muhammad himself was an orphan. Egyptian law does not reflect Islamic law. The egyptian government is very corrupt and is perhaps the worst of the governments ruling majority Muslim populations. The law outlawing adoption may be related to other matters of religion, such as a Muslim child being adopted by non-Muslims and having to conver to another religion. I assume that this is not permissible in any religion. Leave it to the US to allow foreign governments to place people in a cage at trial. Shame on the US embassy and the current leaders who are sitting by and doing nothing! Shame on WRAL and other news outlets for not thoroughly informing the public! You are the reason for much of the worlds problems!