Couple due in court over girl's abduction

Updated: 2013-10-22 00:35


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Couple due in court over girl's abduction

 Maria, the 4-year-old girl who was found by police on Wednesday in a camp in the central town of Farsala, Greece.

A Roma couple was due to appear in a Greek court on Monday over their suspected abduction of a 4-year-old girl dubbed the "blonde angel", whose discovery has prompted thousands of calls from parents with missing children.

The blonde-haired, green-eyed girl named Maria was found by police on Wednesday in a camp in the central town of Farsala. The Roma couple was arrested after DNA testing showed they were not related.

The case offers a glimmer of hope to parents of missing children such as British girl Madeleine McCann that they could be found alive.

While police believe the girl was abducted at birth, the couple says she was given up by her biological mother because she could not raise her.

"We're talking about a woman who could not raise this child and who gave it to the couple in 2009 through a third party shortly after her birth," Marietta Palavra a lawyer for the couple, said at the weekend.

Her colleague Konstantinos Katsavos, who also represents the 40-year-old woman and her 39-year-old husband, said: "There has been no kidnapping, no robbery, no trafficking. They did not buy the child."

Meanwhile, the Roma community is at the center of the abduction case.

The Roma, a poor people in a country devastated by an economic crisis, try to make a living in the camp on the outskirts of Farsala by selling fruit, carpets, blankets, baskets and shoes at markets. They say they are already considered by some to be social outcasts, thieves and beggars.

Now they fear they will be stigmatized as child traffickers.

The president of the local Roma community, Babis Dimitriou, hopes there is no backlash against the 2,000 Roma living in the community.

The case "doesn't reflect on all of us'', he said.

The Greek charity Smile of the Child, which has been looking after the girl, says it has been inundated with more than 8,000 calls about her, a local television station reported.