Greece riveted by mystery of 'blonde angel'
Updated: 2013-10-20 09:33
A four-year-old girl, found living with a Roma couple in central Greece, is seen in a handout photo distributed by the Greek police and obtained by Reuters Oct 18, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Crying and frightened
During questioning, the couple gave at least five conflicting accounts of how the child ended up with them, including that she was found outside a supermarket, police said.
The woman had two different identification documents and other papers suggested the couple had up to 14 children, but six
were registered as having been born within less than 10 months. They received 2,790 euros ($3,800) a month in child benefits, a police source said.
"This has never happened before - to have found the child and to be looking for the parents," said Natalie Karakouliafi of the Smile of the Child charity, which is looking after the girl. In response to an international appeal, it has received more than 5,000 calls since Friday from people looking for their missing children or offering clues.
The charity received reports that the girl was forced to beg for money in the streets but its director, Costas Giannopoulos, said she was in good health.
"She was frightened and cried herself to sleep. She is not looking for anyone and she is devoted to play," he told Reuters. "It has shaken everyone and has helped bring to light a major problem - just how easy it is to traffic children".
Local police chief Vasilis Halastis told Greek TV: "We're always searching for lost children. In this case we're searching for the opposite: the biological, natural parents. This is unprecedented."
($1 = 0.7302 euros)