Mon, Oct 21, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Roma couple says girl left by mother: lawyer

AFP, ATHENS

The mystery of a toddler “blond angel” found living in Greece with a Roma couple took a new twist on Saturday when the pair’s lawyer said the girl’s mother gave her up at birth.

The little girl, thought to be about four years old with blond hair and green eyes, was found by police on Wednesday in a camp in the central town of Farsala.

DNA testing has shown the child is not related to the couple, who have been arrested.

Speaking to media about the girl’s biological mother, a lawyer for the Roma couple, Marietta Palavra, said: “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.”

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

The discovery of the girl gave hope to the parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann that they will find her alive, their spokesman said earlier.

Greek police are looking to question the biological mother, who the couple’s lawyers say does not have Greek citizenship, to confirm the story.

Police said they would seek assistance from Interpol to identify the girl in a Europe-wide search.

Lawyers hope that relatives of the girl will be found before the couple is questioned by a judge in the central city of Larissa today and possibly charged for “abducting a minor.”

Police said the couple had repeatedly changed their version of how the girl, who was undergoing medical exams at a hospital on Saturday, came to live with them.

Press reported that the couple claimed they found the girl abandoned outside a supermarket and in another version said they had obtained the child from her Bulgarian mother.

Yet Katsavos said they had “not made an official deposition so far.”

The girl, said to be about four years old, is expected to stay with The Smile of a Child charity after she is discharged from hospital, organization head Kostas Giannopoulos told reporters.

“The girl is more at peace” than when police took her away from the camp, he said. “For the first time she is with people who care for her.”

The girl’s discovery came days after a television program was broadcast in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands about the case of Madeleine McCann.

Kate and Gerry McCann have been searching for their daughter since May 2007, when she vanished from their holiday apartment in Portugal’s Praia da Luz resort while the couple were at dinner.

Madeleine was a few days shy of her fourth birthday at the time.

The McCanns launched a global campaign to find the daughter and last week issued a fresh appeal with the television program.

After the show, British detectives said they had received more than 2,400 calls and e-mails, while the German and Dutch broadcasts sparked hundreds of similar responses.

Witnesses said the men, seen “lurking” around the apartment complex before her disappearance, were speaking German or Dutch.

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