March 30, 2009 / 2:51 PM / 9 years ago

Malawi court to rule on Madonna adoption bid Friday

LILONGWE (Reuters) - A Malawi court is expected to rule on Friday whether U.S. pop singer Madonna can adopt a second infant from the country, a move a prominent local human rights activist said would amount to child trafficking.

<p>Madonna arrives at the high court escorted by her bodyguards in Lilongwe March 30, 2009. REUTERS/Antony Njuguna</p>

She appeared in court on Monday seeking to adopt a four-year-old girl, Mercy James. The case was adjourned until April 3.

Critics had accused the government of giving one of the world’s most successful singers special treatment when she adopted her Malawian son David Banda, saying it skirted laws that ban non-residents from adopting children.

Malawi civil society groups say they plan to oppose Mercy’s adoption, while aid group ActionAid said the move would not help millions of children living in poverty around the world.

Madonna, in a black dress and sunglasses, did not speak to reporters after the High Court case was adjourned.

“It has been adjourned to Friday, April 3 for the judge to make her ruling,” court registrar Thomson Ligowe told Reuters.

One of Madonna’s lawyers said outside the courtroom that she was asking to be granted an interim adoption of about 18 months.

Malawian human rights activist Mavuto Bamusi was angered by Madonna’s latest adoption attempt.

<p>Madonna walks around with her bodyguards at a school she financed in Namitete, some 50 km south of Malawi's capital Lilongwe, March 30, 2009. REUTERS/Antony Njuguna</p>

“In the absence of clear laws and procedures what is happening in this case amounts to child trafficking or kidnapping,” he told a news conference.

The local Nation newspaper has quoted Madonna, 50, as saying Malawian friends had told her David needed a brother or sister. The singer has two other children: Rocco and Lourdes.

“We are surprised at what’s going on,” leading Malawian human rights activist Mavuto Bamusi told Reuters.

“We are contemplating challenging this adoption.”

ActionAid said in a statement: “Whilst Madonna’s proposed adoption in Malawi may help one child, it’s not going to make a difference to the millions of children living and dying in poverty in the developing world.”

Madonna, who began adoption proceedings for David in 2006, took him when he was 13 months old after his father had placed him in an orphanage following the death of his wife.

The singer has said despite the controversy, she was happy to be involved in a case that might pave the way for more adoptions in Malawi, where an estimated one million children have been orphaned by AIDS.

Madonna has captivated millions around the world with sexy, high-energy performances and songs like “Material Girl,” “Like a Virgin” and “Papa Don’t Preach.”

On Sunday Madonna toured a site where her charity, Raising Malawi, plans to build a multi-million dollar school for girls in Chikhota village, a short distance outside Lilongwe.

Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Giles Elgood

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