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Thai assistant national police chief, Lieutenant General Korkiat Wongworachart speaks during a news conference at the Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok August 20, 2014. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom(reuters_tickers)
BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Thai doctor who performed in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for women involved in a surrogate baby business dubbed the "baby factory" has agreed to turn himself in, police said on Monday.
Thailand has been gripped by a slew of surrogacy scandals following allegations this month that an Australian couple had abandoned their Down syndrome baby with his Thai surrogate mother.
The case prompted a crackdown by authorities on Thailand's largely unregulated surrogacy business. Thailand and India are popular choices for foreign couples looking for a surrogate mother.
The doctor wanted in connection with the so-called baby factory allegedly performed IVF on five women linked to a Japanese man who is suspected of fathering at least 12 babies by Thai surrogate mothers.
The doctor, who has not been identified, has until Sept. 6 to turn himself in and is expected to do so, said police investigator Colonel Decha Promsuwan.
"He is in the process of preparing and gathering evidence," Decha told a news conference. Decha did not elaborate but said an arrest warrant would be issued if he the failed to show up.
The doctor has been charged with practicing surrogacy without a license and for violating the Thai medical council's code of conduct, which bars commercial surrogacy, and faces up to three years in prison.
This month, police raided a Bangkok apartment and discovered nine surrogate babies with their nannies and a pregnant surrogate mother. They later said more babies were found, all suspected of having been fathered by the same Japanese man.
Five women discovered at the apartment have identified the same doctor as having performed IVF on them, police said. A further six women are thought to have been treated by him.
Surrogate mothers in Thailand get up to 400,000 baht (7,535 pounds) to carry babies to full term, police said on Monday.
The Japanese man at the centre of the baby factory scandal fled from Thailand shortly after the apartment raid. He has not been charged but police and Interpol are investigating the case and his motive for fathering the babies.
Thailand's military government has promised leniency on a case-by-case basis for surrogate mothers and babies.
(Reporting by Kaweewit Kaewjinda; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel)