April 3, 2009 / 9:25 AM / 10 years ago

Madonna loses bid to adopt second Malawian child

* Court rules against Madonna’s second adoption bid

* Rejected because singer is not resident of Malawi

* Judge warns against celebrity adoptions

(Adds quote from judge)

By Mabvuto Banda

LILONGWE, April 3 (Reuters) - U.S. pop star Madonna will not be allowed to adopt a second child from Malawi, a 4-year-old girl named Mercy James, the African country’s High Court ruled on Friday.

The ruling will please campaigners who say authorities have given the singer special treatment. Malawi’s government, which came under fire after Madonna adopted a 13-month-old Malawian boy, had said on Thursday it would support a second adoption.

Court registrar Ken Manda told reporters Madonna’s bid to adopt Mercy had been rejected because the star was not a resident of Malawi.

An AIDS epidemic in the impoverished southern African state has produced more than one million orphans.

In her ruling, Judge Esimie Chombo warned against celebrity adoptions, saying they could lead to child trafficking.

"Anyone could come to Malawi and quickly arrange for an adoption that might have grave consequences on the very children that the law seeks to protect," she said.

Madonna’s lawyer, Alan Chinula, said she would lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court on Friday. Her London spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

Madonna has entertained millions around the world with sexy high-energy performances and songs like "Material Girl" and "Papa Don’t Preach", and created controversies along the way.

In 1989, the video for "Like A Prayer", with its links between religion and eroticism, was condemned by the Vatican and caused Pepsi-Cola to cancel a sponsorship deal with the star.

Madonna surprised fans in February by dedicating another of her hits, "Like a Virgin", to the pope at a concert in Rome.

Malawian rights groups, who accused the government of skirting residency laws when Madonna adopted David Banda in 2006, opposed the latest adoption attempt as well.

Malawian Information Minister Patricia Kaliati told Reuters on Thursday that Madonna had helped in the country and was a worthy mother who was supporting over 25,000 orphans here.

Madonna, accompanied by David, arrived in Malawi on Sunday ahead of the court examination of her application.

The star, who was divorced last year from British film director Guy Ritchie, is one of the most successful singers of all time, with album sales of more than 200 million. (Reporting by Mabvuto Banda; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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