Greek Roma mystery girl: Couple accused of abducting ‘Maria’ charged and jailed after court hearing

Pair will face trial after court officials reportedly unconvinced by claims they were willfully given the 'blonde angel' as a baby

A Roma couple accused of abducting a mystery girl dubbed the “blonde angel” have been jailed pending trial by a Greek court.

The 39-year-old man and 40-year-old woman told a court yesterday that the girl, known only as Maria, was freely given to them as a baby because the biological mother could not look after her.

They have been charged with child abduction and falsifying birth records, after police found the girl - now thought to be around five or six years old - and used DNA tests to prove she was not related to the couple raising her.

And though the couple deny they snatched the girl and say her mother handed the girl to them shortly after giving birth, court officials were reportedly unconvinced and said that the pair would be detained until a trial at a later date.

“It was an adoption that was not exactly legal but took place with the mother’s consent,” Constantinos Katsavos, one of the lawyers representing the 39-year-old man, told reporters.

A worldwide appeal launched to find the girl's parents has yielded 10,000 responses.

Social workers suspect the couple of kidnapping the girl and sending her out to beg, or involving her in a sex ring, the BBC reported.

Maria was found by the police after officers raided the Roma camp in which she was living in order to search for drugs and weapons.

They noticed how little the blonde-haired, green-eyed, pale-skinned girl physically resembled her parents. Authorities found further discrepancies when examining the family's documents.

The broadcaster reports that the couple had registered different numbers of children with different regional family registries.

The woman claimed to have given birth to six children within the space of 10 months.

Thessalia Province's Police Director Vassilis Halatsis said that the couple gave “constantly changing claims” about how they came to have Maria.

The Roma community in Greece where the girl was found has come together to support the couple. The head of the Roma association in Farsala in central Greece  has said that the couple treated the young girl better that their biological children and that she loved them.

Greek Police appealed internationally to find the girl's parents as the girl looked as if she might be from northern or eastern Europe.

Two families in the UK with long-missing children have also responded to the appeal.

The family of Ben Needham, a toddler from Sheffield who disappeared on the Greek island of Kos in 1991 aged 21 months, said Maria's discovery gave them “great hope”.

The missing boy's sister said she wanted police to carry out an investigation based on her own DNA - beginning at the encampment near Farsala where Maria was found.

Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, whose daughter Madeleine went missing in 2007, said Maria's case had renewed their hope that Madeleine would also be found.

“They have always maintained that until there is evidence to prove otherwise missing children can still be out there waiting to be found,” he told the Daily Mirror.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opening has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Recruitment Genius: Inside Sales Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Join a worldwide leader in data-driven marketi...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn