Egypt's Attorney General Nabil Sadek referred on Tuesday 41 defendants involved in an organ transplant and trafficking network to the criminal court, state news agency MENA reported.
Investigations in the case found that the defendants had performed illegal operations between January 2011 and December 2016 as an organised criminal group, exploiting poor Egyptians in need of money by paying for and removing their organs, mainly kidneys, and transplanting them into foreign recipients. These operations violate medical laws and were performed in unauthorized places.
The prosecution charged the network members with profiteering, bribery, money laundering, dereliction of duty and causing permanent disabilities.
The group's illegal operations resulted in the death of one of the victims and permanent disabilities in others, according to investigations.
The suspects accused of running the illegal network -- including Egyptians and foreigners -- were arrested in December 2016.
According to an official statement issued by the Ministry of Health, the network included university professors, doctors, nurses, medical centre owners and brokers involved in illegal organ trafficking.
Organ trafficking is explicitly forbidden in Egypt according to article 60 of the country’s 2014 constitution.
Egyptian law incriminates the trade of organs and penalises traffickers with up to seven years in jail.
In March, the Egyptian State Council approved a draft law to further regulate organ transplant operations, which includes harsher sentences up to and including the death penalty if an illegal or forced operation resulted in the death of the victim.
The Egyptian parliament is set to vote on the draft law.