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Bulgarian Police Question Roma Couple Over Greek 'Maria' Case

posted 24 Oct 2013, 09:33 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 24 Oct 2013, 09:34 ]

Bulgarian police question a Roma couple who say they may be the biological parents of a blonde girl named Maria found in a Roma camp in Greece last week, state television says.

 NIKOLAEVO, BULGARIA (OCTOBER 24, 2013) (DIANA TV) -  Bulgarian police questioned a Roma couple who say they may be the biological parents of a blonde girl named Maria found in a Roma camp in Greece last week, local television said on Thursday (October 24).

Local media identified the Roma woman as Sasha Ruseva, 38, from the town of Nikolaevo insouthern Bulgaria. She is believed to have given birth in a hospital in central Greece in January 2009, Bulgarian National Television BNT said.

Bulgarian police declined to comment. Footage shown on BNT showed the woman speaking outside a police station.

"We do not know whether it is our child. We have given out some children for free, we have taken no money, we never took any money, we just couldn't feed the child, also my daughter lost her husband, there is nobody to look after our children," Ruseva said.

Ruseva and her husband, Atanas Rusev, 36, have 10 children, five of whom are blonde and closely resemble the four-year-old girl found last week, media reports said, adding that the woman had recognised Maria as her child after seeing TV footage.

The discovery of blue-eyed Maria during a police sweep in a Roma settlement in central Greece on October 16 sparked a global search for her real parents after DNA tests showed the Roma couple she was with were not her blood relatives.

The 40-year-old woman and 39-year-old man have been detained pending trial on charges of abducting a minor but deny the accusations, saying the girl's biological mother gave her up willingly because she could not raise her.

According to media reports, Ruseva said she left her seven-month-old baby to a woman in Greecefour years ago when she and her husband worked in the Greek town of Larissa but needed to go back to Bulgaria to take care of their other children.

The family lives in extreme poverty in a two-room home in a Roma camp in the southern town of Nikolaevo.

A man identified as a relative of the couple said they had not sold any of their children.

"Some people say Sasha sold her child. She did not sell her child, because if she had done so, she would been have been living in a bigger house than this and in better conditions," Angel Angelovsaid.

Ruseva said she was not completely certain that Maria was the child she had left in Greece, but that she would like to take her back, if DNA tests prove the blonde girl is her child.

There are an estimated 10 million Roma living across Europe, and they are one of its oldest minorities. The Council of Europe, which monitors human rights, says they are also the most discriminated against minority on the continent.