A Japanese man who fathered over a dozen babies through Thai surrogate mothers has been authorised to take home at least 13 children.
The Central Juvenile and Family Court awarded parenthood rights to Mitsutoki Shigeta on Tuesday, 20 February. He was given the "sole parent" rights after the Thai surrogates surrendered their. The 28-year-old was not present in court when the verdict was announced, the Bangkok Post reported.
"For the happiness and opportunities which the 13 children will receive from their biological father, who does not have a history of bad behaviour, the court rules that all 13 born from surrogacy to be legal children of the plaintiff," Bangkok's Central Juvenile Court said in a statement.
Shigeta, dubbed "baby factory" man, had made headlines in 2014 when it was found that he had fathered 16 babies via surrogates in Thailand. Nine babies along with seven nannies and a pregnant Thai woman were found at an apartment house in Bangkok's Bang Kapi district in August 2014.
Court documents revealed that he had hired nine women to give birth to his children in 2013. The women delivered babies in 2014 but before Shigeta had taken them home an investigation by Interpol was launched against him, alleging he was into human trafficking.
The infamous case had also thrown light on Thailand's then-unregulated surrogacy trade, pushing authorities to bar foreigners from hiring Thai surrogates in 2015, The Star reported.
Shigeta, the son of a wealthy entrepreneur, left Thailand soon after the accusations, but he later sued the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security for custody of the children. His lawyer, Kong Suriyamonthol, also refuted the allegations and said Shigeta had grown up in an extended family and had always wanted a large family of his own following which he was given parental rights of three of his children in 2015.
On Tuesday, the Bangkok court said in its ruling that since Shigeta belongs to a wealthy family, he had enough money to take care of the children. It was also noted that though he was away from the babies after the scandal broke, his representatives had regularly visited the children at the facilities and had also opened trust fund accounts for the 13 children in Singapore.