Ukrainian Police have apprehended a boarding school teacher who is alleged to have attempted to sell a 13-year-old girl for $10,000 (£8,035), according to the country's interior minister. The girl was living at a school for homeless children and orphans, as well as minors with troubled backgrounds in the eastern city of Kharkiv.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov took to Facebook on Monday (21 November) to express his disgust at the arrest, which took place after a four-month police investigation. He attached photos of the suspect, said to be a 52-year-old teacher at the school, along with the girl.
Avakov said the buyer had inquired about the girl's health and had even paid the teacher 1,000 hryvnia (£31; $39) for photos of the teenager and to see her complete medical records.
The suspect has been named by Ukrainian media as Galina Kovalenko who has taught Ukrainian and Russian languages and literature for more than 20 years, the BBC reported.
Avakov stated that the buyer, who was not named, had hinted that the girl's organs may have been removed and then sold. There has been no statement made by Kovalenko or the school concerned.
Avakov said: "Galina [Kovalenko] worked for nearly a year on her 'business plan' for selling the 13-year-old girl", whom she had singled out as vulnerable. "They got this seller 'red-handed' - when she took the girl out of the boarding school, brought her to the buyers and received money.
"She identified the girl from a dysfunctional family in a boarding school, was looking for a buyer, to transmit documents."
He said that he will personally keep track of the case and that, if convicted, the teacher could receive a sentence ranging from three to 12 years in prison. Reports have emerged from the region in recent years of criminal gangs preying on destitute people in order to "harvest" their organs.
It is estimated by UNICEF that 215,000 children have been internally displaced in Ukraine since the conflict between the military and pro-Russian separatists began in April 2014, which has led to the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Over 9,000 people have died during the conflict.