Three members of a Greek Roma family have been arrested on suspicion of child abduction, just days after the discovery of a girl who authorities believe may have been abducted or trafficked.
A 19-year-old woman, her 21-year-old male companion and his 51-year-old mother were detained by authorities at a Roma settlement outside of the island capital of Mytilini, after allegedly trying to register a two-month old baby boy as their child.
Police were alerted because they lacked sufficient documentation to prove the child was their own, and later told authorities an unknown Roma woman had given the boy to them in Athens, regional police chief Panagiotis Kordonouris told the Associated Press.
“They told us they didn't give her any money, and that they met by accident. She told them that she had five children; they said that they are unable to have their own and asked if she could give her one,” Kordonouris said.
The discovery of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl living with a Roma family last week sparked an international investigation after DNA tests proved the girl was not biologically related to a couple who initially claimed to be her parents.
Christos Salis and Eletheria Dimopoulou aged 39 and 40, have been arrested and charged with abduction and document fraud. They claim they received the child, known only as 'Maria' from a destitute Bulgarian woman and raised her with her own five children.
Dimopoulou declared six births in less than ten months and along with Salis registered 14 children with officials in three cities, police allege. The pair are awaiting trial.
The international police agency Interpol said it has not matched any missing cases to the DNA of the girl, who has been placed in temporary care with Greek charity Smile of the Child.
“The child is not on any list of missing children, so we believe this clearly demonstrates that this is not a case of kidnapping ... All the evidence that is emerging is providing confirmation of what my clients have been saying from the very first moment,” the couple's lawyer Marietta Palavra told private Skai television.