Alleged clone in Israel, court told
The Miami Herald, Jan. 30, 2003
BY ASHLEY FANTZ
Word of the child’s whereabouts came from Clonaid President Brigitte Boisselier, who triggered a media frenzy in December by announcing Baby Eve’s birth, then reneged on a promise to allow DNA tests to prove that the child was indeed a clone.
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That only fueled skepticism that the claim by Clonaid, which has links to a cult called the Raelians, was a hoax.
”That is news to me,” said Miki Arbel, consul general of Israel to Florida, informed of the claim that Eve is in Israel.
Broward Circuit Judge John Frusciante, initially rebuffed Clonaid’s efforts to get the case dismissed, expressed frustration with Clonaid’s answers.
”I’m spinning wheels here,” he said.
Frusciante asked Clonaid lawyer Barry Wax whether Clonaid Vice President Thomas Kaenzig, who was ordered Jan. 22 to appear in person Wednesday, was present. Wax answered that he did not come, but that Boisselier was there in Kaenzig’s place.
Boisselier, the coordinator of Clonaid’s Hollywood, Fla., news conference held last December to announce the child’s birth, claims to be the only person to have been in contact with the child and its family over the past few months. However, she told the court she had ”lost touch” with them recently and had only seen the baby on videotape over the past few weeks.
Boisselier explained that a lawsuit to determine the welfare of the child, filed by Coral Gables attorney Bernard Siegel and assigned to Frusciante, had scared the parents into hiding. They feared the state would try to take the baby away.
A member of the Raelians religious cult that believes human life was created by space aliens, Boisselier testified that the child was not born in Florida and has never been in Florida. She sought to assure Frusciante that a team of pediatricians are looking after the child.
Frusciante lectured her on the ethics of cloning human life.
”You cannot pursue human cloning with impunity,” the judge warned Boisselier. ”We must not stand for the creation of life or the end of it as an experiment and many believe that cloning is in its experimental stage.” Officials with the Florida Department of Children & Families, represented by about a half-dozen people in court Wednesday, said they were unsure whether Israel has a child-welfare agency capable of looking into the case.
”All we can do is hope that there is some entity in that country to look into this,” said David Bazerman, a longtime child advocate and director of Broward’s Dependency Law Project. “I will be doing some research on it today.”
Arbel said Israeli law does not expressly forbid cloning, but that the practice is just as controversial there as it is in the United States.
Although Arbel noted that ”the vast majority of people in Israel are against cloning as such,” he said the legal issues pertaining to the procedure haven’t been debated in his country. He said the nation is, however, at the forefront of the related field of stem-cell research, which uses cloned human cells for laboratory purposes.
Herald staff writer Daniel de Vise contributed to this report.