ATHENS, Greece — A Roma couple will appear in a Greek court Monday over the suspected abduction of a four-year-old girl dubbed the "blond angel," whose discovery has prompted thousands of calls from parents with missing children.
The blond-haired, green-eyed girl named Maria was found by police on Wednesday in a camp in the central town of Farsala, and the Roma couple — also known as gypsies — was arrested after DNA testing showed they were not related.
The case offered a glimmer of hope to parents of missing children such as British girl Madeleine McCann that they could be found alive.
While police believe the girl was abducted at birth, the couple claims she was given up by her biological mother because she could not raise her.
"We're talking about a woman who could not raise this child and who gave it to the couple in 2009 through a third party shortly after her birth," a lawyer for the couple, Marietta Palavra, told AFP over the weekend.
"There has been no kidnapping, no robbery, no trafficking," insisted her colleague Konstantinos Katsavos, who also represents the 40-year-old woman and her 39-year-old husband.
"They did not buy the child," he said.
Greek charity Smile of the Child, who have been looking after the child, say they have been inundated with more than 8,000 calls about the girl, according to local Skai tv.
"It is mostly parents whose children went missing and who believe there are many similarities [with the girl]," head of the organization Costas Giannopoulos told daily Ta Nea on Monday.
Police have said they would seek assistance from Interpol to identify the girl in a Europe-wide search.
Greek police are looking to question the biological mother, who does not have Greek citizenship according to the couple's lawyers, to confirm the story.