A Bulgarian Roma couple are the biological parents of a four-year-old blonde girl found in Greece last week, DNA tests showed on Friday, clearing some of the mystery around a case that has captured global attention.
Bulgarian prosecutors are investigating whether the mother, Sasha Ruseva, 35, sold her child. Ruseva denies this, but admits leaving a seven-month-old baby in Greece — where she was working as an olive-picker — in 2009 because she could not look after the child and had to return to Bulgaria.
The case has illustrated the plight of Roma gypsies in Bulgaria, the EU’s poorest member state. Many spend their lives close to destitution, illiterate and on the fringes of society.
The four-year-old, called Maria and dubbed the “blonde angel” by Greek media, was found last week by police at a Roma settlement in central Greece. DNA tests showed the Roma couple she was with were not her biological parents.
The couple say the girl was given to them by her mother who could not look after her, but they have been charged with abducting a minor and detained.
Maria is being looked after by a Greek charity, which says it has received thousands of calls from as far away as the US and Sweden with supposed leads on Maria’s possible identity.
The search narrowed this week to a Bulgarian Roma couple, Sasha Ruseva and her husband Atanas Rusev.
“DNA analysis proved that Sasha Ruseva is the biological mother of the girl named Maria,” Bulgarian Interior Ministry Chief Commissioner Svetlozar Lazarov told reporters. “It also showed Atanas Rusev as the biological father.”
He declined to comment on whether Bulgaria would now seek the return of Maria. Local social services authorities said they were ready to accommodate the girl if necessary.
“At a later stage, we will take measures to protect the child and perhaps she will be placed in a foster family,” said Diana Kaneva, head of the agency for social assistance in the area.