A controversial Italian gynaecologist best known for helping women in their 60s to have babies, has been arrested after a woman accused him of removing eggs without her consent.
Dr Severino Antinori has been placed under house arrest in Rome and banned from practising for a year as police investigate the allegations.
Antinori shot to worldwide fame in 1994 when his pioneering techniques helped a 63-year-old woman become the oldest woman ever to have given birth. He has since become an outspoken advocate of using cloning technology to help infertile couples have children.
He was arrested at Rome's Fiumicino airport at the weekend following a complaint by a 24-year-old Spanish woman who was being treated for an ovarian cyst at his clinic in Milan.
The alleged victim has a nursing qualification and had recently begun working at the clinic.
Prosecutors allege that Antinori, 70, who had met the woman by chance, set up a job interview and later diagnosed the ovarian cyst with the sole intention of harvesting her eggs without her knowledge.
The woman says she had her mobile phone taken from her before being placed under anaesthetic and operated on without her consent.
She believed she was only going to be treated by injection for the cyst, according to her lawyer.
Antinori's lawyers described the charges as "absurd". Prosecutors are also working on the hypothesis that this may not be an isolated case.
"The arrest of Severino Antinori is extremely serious because it indicates the existence of a market in eggs that will not stop at anything," said Donata Lenzi, an Italian politician from prime minister's Democratic Party.
The gynaecologist was also involved in the treatment of Patricia Rashbrook, who became Britain's oldest mother when she had a boy in 2006 at the age of 62.
- with AP