The Roma gypsy couple accused of abducting a mystery girl known as the "blonde angel" claims the child's mother willfully gave her to them a few days after she was born, but Greek police are convinced she was kidnapped.
"It was an adoption that was not exactly legal but took place with the mother's consent," Constantinos Katsavos, one of the gypsy's lawyers, told reporters.
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Officers searching a gypsy encampment for drugs and illegal firearms stumbled across the blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl in central Greece last week. They were put off by her appearance — she looked strikingly unlike the 40-year-old woman and a 39-year-old man she was living with.
The Roma gypsies — identified as Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou or Selini Sali, as the woman had two separate sets of identity papers — were taken into pre-trial custody and the little girl, called "Maria," was temporarily placed with Smile of the Child charity while officials search for her parents, according to CBS News.
The man and woman appeared before a judge Monday in Larissa, near Farsala, and were charged with child abduction and illegally obtaining official documents. The man was separately charged for possessing an illegal firearm and other drug-related counts.
Investigators worry the girl was the victim of human trafficking or possibly part of a welfare scam. The Roma woman reportedly told police she had given birth to six children in less than 10 months, but 10 of the 14 children the couple had registered as their own are unaccounted for.
Officials suspect the children were made up in order for the couple to receive welfare money. Records indicate that the suspects were getting about 2,500 euros ($3,420) a month in subsidies from three different cities, The Associated Press reported.
CBS News reported that Smile of the Child has received more than 8,000 calls and tips about the identity of Maria, but so far no one has come forward as her biological mother or father.
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