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.

Sport
footballLIVE: All the latest from today's Premier League matches
News
newsNew images splice vintage WWII photos with modern-day setting
Arts and Entertainment
The star dances on a balcony in the video
music
News
Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen learns that Peeta is still alive in Mockingjay Part 1
peopleListen to the actress sing in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 1
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
music
News
Evidence collected by academics suggests that people find the right work-life balance at 58-years-old, towards the end of their working lives
news
News
i100
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
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: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines