DNA tests confirm Roma couple as Maria's parents

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 October, 2013, 4:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 October, 2013, 5:25am


DNA tests have confirmed that a Bulgarian Roma couple are the parents of a mysterious girl in Greece known as Maria, authorities said yesterday.

Genetic profiles of Sasha Ruseva and her husband, Atanas, matched that of the girl, Bulgarian Interior Ministry official Svetlozar Lazarov said.

Ruseva has said she gave birth to a baby girl four years ago in Greece while working as an olive picker and gave the child away because she was too poor to care for her. Maria has been placed in temporary care since last week after authorities raided a Roma settlement in central Greece and later discovered that girl was not the child of a Greek Roma couple she was living with. The couple has been arrested and charged for allegedly abducting Maria and document fraud.

A lawyer representing the Greek couple yesterday said they planned to seek legal custody of the fair-haired girl. The couple have told authorities they had received Maria after an informal adoption.

Under Greek law, child abduction charges can include cases where a minor is voluntarily given away by its parents outside the legal adoption process.

"Now that they're in prison there's not much they can do," their lawyer, Costas Katsavos, said. "But provided what we said is borne out, that it was not an abduction, then logically they will be released from prison and they will be able to enter a proper [adoption] process ... They truly and ardently want her back."

The confirmation of Maria's parentage came as Athens police charged a Greek couple with abduction and trafficking of a minor after they allegedly admitted buying a Roma baby for €4,000 (HK$43,000)The couple, a 53-year-old man and his 48-year-old wife, told police they had received the baby girl from a Roma woman in March. The woman then unsuccessfully tried to register the baby as her own child.