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First cloned baby { January 29 2003 }

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Judge dismisses suit after cult says cloned baby living in Israel

By Paula McMahon & Associated Press
Posted January 29 2003, 12:45 PM EST

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Broward Circuit Judge John Frusciante ruled Wednesday that he has no jurisdiction in the Clonaid case and threw the case out after the president of the group claimed the world's first cloned baby, which is known as Eve, is living in Israel.

Brigitte Boisselier, president of the shadowy group Clonaid, made the disclosure during a hearing into whether Florida should appoint a guardian for the child. She also said two other cloned babies have been born since Eve's alleged birth late last month.

The group has offered no proof that the babies are clones or even exist. Boisselier originally promised DNA tests on Eve, but later backed out saying the parents were concerned the court was trying to take the baby away.

Boisselier is a member of the Raelians, a religious sect that believes beings from outer space created life on Earth. Its founder, a former French journalist who calls himself Rael, established Clonaid in 1997.

Wednesday, Boisselier said she has only seen a videotape of Eve and has lost contact with the child's parents.

"I can tell you this baby is not in the United State and has never been in the United States," Boisselier said.

Ordered to tell where the baby was, Boisselier said: " The baby is in israel ... The child and mother are in Israel." She said she did not have an exact address.

After Boisselier's testimony, Frusciante ruled that he has no jurisdiction because there was no proof the child had been in Florida and tossed the case out. He did request that the government and child agencies in Israel look into the child's welfare.

However, he lectured Boisselier on her intention to market human cloning as a business, but he also assured her he was not trying to take the baby.

``You cannot pursue human cloning with impunity,'' the judge told her. ``All of us must not overlook the weakest among us.'' Clonaid has said Eve was born to U.S. parents Dec. 26.

The court hearing was scheduled after attorney Bernard Siegel asked for the appointment of a guardian for Eve. He believes cloning is inherently abusive because of the problems encountered in other mammal cloning.

Siegel, 53, a former sports promoter and agent who owned the Miami Tropics professional basketball team and Florida Championship Wrestling, has been handling personal injury and medical malpractice cases for the past year. He said he stepped up on behalf of the child because no one else did.

Sitting in the courtroom on Wednesday were five members of the Raelians cult.

Raelians believe cloning is the "downloading" of human consciousness into successive bodies. Their leader, Rael, is Claude Vorilhon, a former French journalist and race car driver, who started the cult after claiming to meet a space alien, who told him extraterrestrials have been working to perfect human DNA technology for tens of thousands of years.

Since Eve's undocumented and alleged birth, Clonaid and Raelians have claimed two other cloned births.

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Copyright 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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