Cult pledges clone proof -- again

Members of a Quebec-based religious sect that claimed it created five human clones said yesterday they plan to produce supporting scientific evidence.

Clonaid said it performed the first successful cloning of a human last December.

Although four months have passed, it has never provided proof.

Clonaid president Brigitte Boisselier told a news conference that since then, cloned babies have been born in the Netherlands, Japan, Saudi Arabia and in the U.S.

The latest baby was born Feb. 4 in the U.S., she said.

The sect behind Clonaid, a group called the Raelians, believes life on Earth was started by space aliens.

Boisselier, who said she was in Israel to visit the first-born clone, Eve, said the baby's parents were U.S.-born Israelis, but refused to identify them.

Members of the sect would not disclose Eve's birthplace, but said she was not born in either the U.S. or Israel.

Boisselier said Eve's mother asked for cloning after fertility treatments failed to produce a pregnancy.

She said a further 20 implants had been performed, resulting in several more pregnancies. She did not say how many.

Boisselier said the parents of the cloned babies planned to set up an association in Brazil, where the legal climate is more sympathetic to cloning, and the group has been invited to speak to the Brazilian Parliament.

She said scientific evidence proving the existence of one of the clones -- a boy -- would be produced in coming days.

Boisselier said about 50 Israelis and Palestinians asked to use the group's cloning technique, among them several on both sides who had lost a child during 29 months of Israeli-Palestinian violence and wanted to reproduce their lost offspring.

A 1998 Israeli law imposed a five-year moratorium on human cloning, although it permits stem cell research in which the cloned cell is not implanted into the uterus.

The news conference was interrupted by a man dressed as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, who shouted at Boisselier that her work was criminal and against Jewish beliefs.

"My mother could duplicate herself! I will have 10,000 mothers," he screamed.

"What will I do with 10,000 mothers, I can only stand one !"