GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

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"JANE DOE" - 4 yo - Farsala, Greece

Post by twinkletoes on Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:48 pm

Mystery blonde girl found in Greece prompts search for parents

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

updated 11:30 AM EDT, Sat October 19, 2013





Search for mystery blond girl's parents

STORY HIGHLIGHTS



  • A blonde, blue-eyed girl was found living with a Roma couple she does not resemble
  • DNA testing proved she was not their child, police say, and she's now in the care of a charity
  • Greek authorities hope releasing the photographs will help find her real parents
  • The couple posing as her parents have been arrested on suspicion of abducting a minor

(CNN) -- Pale, blonde and blue-eyed, the 4-year-old girl looks shyly into the camera.

This is no ordinary photo, though. The little girl pictured is at the center of a mystery.

Police in Greece say they found her Thursday with a Roma couple posing as her parents but have no idea who she is or where her real parents are.

They hope releasing the pictures of her might prompt people to come forward with information.

The girl was discovered during a search of a home in a community of Roma, also known as gypsies, near the town of Larissa in central Greece, police said.

Police first became suspicious because the girl, who is blonde with very pale skin and blue eyes, did not resemble the couple who claimed to be her parents.

When the couple were then questioned, "they changed repeatedly their story about how they got the child," a police statement said, compounding the officers' suspicions.

DNA testing then "showed that there was not any genetic compatibility" between the girl and the 39-year-old man and the 40-year-old woman, the police said, meaning they cannot be her biological parents.

The girl was immediately taken from the couple and entrusted to the care of a charity called The Smile of the Child. The charity said it would look after her "until a solution in the best interest of the child is found."

The two people posing as her parents have been arrested and face charges of abducting a minor, as well as counts of falsifying identity documents, said the state-owned Athens-Macedonian News Agency.

Among the suspect documents found by police was a 2009 birth and baptism registration from Athens authorities, the news agency said.

Handout photo released by Greek police shows an unidentified 4-year-old girl who was found on October 17, 2013 near Farsala in central Greece during a crackdown on illegal activities by Roma.

The 40-year-old woman also had two different valid identification documents and, based on family registration records, appears to have given birth to three children between June and November 1993, and another three children between October 1994 and February 1995, it said. The 39-year-old man is registered as the father of four more children.

Greece's government has promised to help the child. In the meantime, the little girl is being given support by a police psychologist, the police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the European Hotline for Missing Children or contact The Smile of the Child.

The girl's discovery will likely prompt speculation she may have been abducted or trafficked -- which, if proven, could serve to fuel prejudice against the Roma community within Greece and elsewhere.

Rights group Amnesty International has called on the European Union to take action to end discrimination against the 6 million Roma, describing them as "the largest and most disadvantaged minority in the region."

In May, Amnesty International said Greece had been found guilty of discrimination against Roma schoolchildren in three separate rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.

www.cnn.com/2013/10/19/world/europe/greece-mystery-child/?sr...
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by twinkletoes on Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:56 pm

Posting this here because there is a possibility she is American.
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by ladibug on Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:37 am

ATHENS, GREECE (Reuters) – Greek police have asked Interpol to help them track down the real parents of a blonde girl with green eyes who was found in a Roma camp in central Greece.

Known as Maria, the four-year-old was spotted peeking out from under a blanket at a Roma settlement near the town of Farsala during a police sweep on Wednesday for suspected drug trafficking.

She speaks just a few words in the Roma dialect and Greek, and police think she may be of northern or eastern European origin, possibly from Scandinavia or Bulgaria.

Police have sent Interpol a file with all the evidence they have on the girl, including DNA samples, to seek a possible match with its records on missing children, a police official said. They have also contacted international groups and charities that deal with lost or abducted children.

“Mystery – a blonde angel without an identity,” top-selling daily Ta Nea wrote on its front page on Saturday.

Photos released by police of Maria staring blankly at the camera with muddy hands and scruffy pigtails have dominated the media. Parallels were drawn to the case of Briton Madeleine McCann, who vanished while on holiday in Portugal in 2007, when she was three years old.

DNA tests have shown the couple in the Roma camp with whom Maria was living were not her biological parents. The 40-year-old woman and 39-year-old man have been arrested and charged with abducting a minor, and police are investigating whether the girl was a victim of trafficking.

CRYING AND FRIGHTENED

During questioning, the couple gave at least five conflicting accounts of how the child ended up with them, including that she was found outside a supermarket, police said.

The woman had two different identification documents and other papers suggested the couple had up to 14 children, but six were registered as having been born within less than 10 months. They received 2,790 euros ($3,800) a month in child benefits, a police source said.

“This has never happened before – to have found the child and to be looking for the parents,” said Natalie Karakouliafi of the Smile of the Child charity, which is looking after the girl. In response to an international appeal, it has received more than 5,000 calls since Friday from people looking for their missing children or offering clues.

The charity received reports that the girl was forced to beg for money in the streets but its director, Costas Giannopoulos, said she was in good health.

“She was frightened and cried herself to sleep. She is not looking for anyone and she is devoted to play,” he told Reuters. “It has shaken everyone and has helped bring to light a major problem – just how easy it is to traffic children”.

Local police chief Vasilis Halastis told Greek TV: “We’re always searching for lost children. In this case we’re searching for the opposite: the biological, natural parents. This is unprecedented.”

($1 = 0.7302 euros)

Read more: http://fox59.com/2013/10/19/mystery-blonde-girl-found-in-greece-prompts-search-for-parents/#ixzz2iJQWqtRI
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by ladibug on Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:42 am

Twinkletoes, you "did good" in finding this remarkable story! I can't begin to imagine the joy for the parents of this winsome little "angel" to find out that the child whisked away from them is alive and well.

At least I'm hoping that is the outcome. I'm also wondering if the the other "birth certificates" have stolen children to go with them.
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by ladibug on Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:48 am



and "....Sister of missing Ben Needham seeks DNA test

The sister of a child who went missing in Greece more than 20 years ago says she wants her own DNA to be tested against that of Maria.

She is seeking this, on the off chance the girl is related to her missing brother.

Sheffield boy Ben Needham was just 21 months old when he went missing on Greek holiday island Kos in 1991.

His sister Leighanna Needham, 20, never met Ben but said the discovery of Maria in the gypsy camp was welcome news for her family's fight for answers.

"It's given us great hope," she told Sky News.

"Obviously, it's been a strong belief of myself and all my family that Ben was taken by gypsies for child trafficking or illegal adoptions and this case just shows that they can be found."

Ms Needham said the same technology could help find her long-lost brother.

"I think that would be a brilliant thing to get our DNA out there, even if it's not actually Ben but any siblings or any children maybe of Ben (that are found) then that could hopefully lead us to him," she said.

http://www.rte.ie/news/2013/1019/481365-greek-blonde-child-mystery/
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by ladibug on Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:29 am


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2468931/Chaz-Bono-reveals-newly-buff-physique-shopping-friends.html

".....‘We are shocked by how easy it is for people to register children as their own,’ he told Greek television.

Police believe up to ten more children found at the camp may be the victims of a trafficking ring.

Delphine Moralis, secretary general of Missing Children Europe, said: ‘This case is very unusual in that we’re looking for the child’s family, rather than the child.’

She said The Smile Of The Child, a member organisation of Missing Children Europe, have several houses in Greece where they take children ‘who have nowhere else to go’.

Maria’s discovery gives fresh hope for other British families with missing children, including the tragic case of Ben Needham, the Sheffield boy who went missing in Kos in 1991, aged 21 months.

Ben’s sister, Leighanna, said the discovery was ‘very significant to Ben’s case’.

‘It gives us great hope that one day this will be Ben.

Child trafficking and illegal adoption in Greece has been pretty high and that’s exactly what they thought had happened to Ben – that he was taken for a childless family and passed through gipsy camps,’ she told the BBC.

Maria was found just days after the Metropolitan Police revealed the results of a major review of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Comparison: The case bears a disturbing similarity to theories about the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann, who went missing on a family holiday in Portugal on May 3, 2007

HOW ROMA GANGS 'TRAFFIC CHILDREN ACROSS EUROPE TO STEAL'
Roma gangs have been accused of trafficking hundreds of children across Europe to steal

Roma gangs have been accused of trafficking hundreds of children to and from countries including Britain to mug and steal as part of an ‘international criminal network’.

Boys and girls as young as 10 are being used to make more than £2000 a month each, through crimes organised by Fagin-like bosses.

Around 200 children are though to be involved, with much of their tax free income being smuggled back to Romania to buy property.

Details of the sinister 'family' network emerged during an appeal last year in Paris against a five-year-prison sentence by Remus Stoian, a 40-year-old Romanian national.

He was found guilty alongside Palos Constantine, a compatriot also aged 40, of organising an ‘international criminal network which aimed to bring minors to France to commit theft.’

Both men were based with their ‘extended clan’ at an illegal Roma campsite in the St Denis suburb of Paris, and regularly 'trafficked' children between ‘France, Romania and even England’, a judicial source told Le Figaro.

The Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris said Stoian and Constantine had been wire tapped as they discussed the successes of their operation, which is still being run by relatives.

The conversations reveals that children were ‘selected by hand’, with Stoain saying at one point: ‘You need four to five people who can work for you, and each can bring in between 100 and 150 euros a day.

You can bring in 3000 euros a month.'

The young criminal gangs are taken to top tourists spots, including central London to steal from people. The reason for keeping the children moving between different countries is so that they can not be 'traced' to the adults exploiting them.

Another Romanian in the gang said he had 11 children working for him personally, with a 'clan chief' ultimately being responsible for the whole operation.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2468431/Police-probe-claims-Ben-Needham-spotted-gypsy-camp-Maria.html#ixzz2iJdHb8Ay
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by ladibug on Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:47 am

Dancing for the camera with a dummy in her mouth, the mystery blonde girl found living with Roma gypsies: Footage emerges of child 'performing for camera when she was just a toddler'

   Footage shows girl, believed to be abducted four-year-old dancing
   Video handed to police by relatives of couple 'raising' child
   Girl, known only as 'Maria', has fair hair and pale skin
   Man, 39, and woman, 40, arrested and charged with abducting a minor
   DNA testing proved she was not related to the couple
   Charity now caring for the girl requests global hunt to find her real parents



A video believed to show the four-year-old girl rescued from a Greek gypsy camp dancing as a toddler has emerged.

In the short clip the tot, thought to have been around one at the time, is shown twirling and dancing as a large dark-haired woman watches on.

Frequently the smiling woman, whose identity is unknown, can be seen the grab the little girl, known only as Maria, as she staggers about, pushing her back into the centre of a sunny courtyard to continue her dance.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2468824/A-dummy-mouth-performing-camera-Video-shows-mystery-blonde-girl-centre-international-hunt-dancing-Roma-gypsies.html#ixzz2iJhatrb3

The above pics are really video but I don't know how to copy the video. blushing 
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by twinkletoes on Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:16 am

Ladibug, I was going to follow up on this when I found the time.  Thank you so much for posting all of this.

She is a beautiful angel and I pray she can be reunited with her family.  That is, if  they are worthy of her and didn't sell or give her away.
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by twinkletoes on Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:10 pm

Is 'Maria' AMERICAN? Half of the promising leads identifying little blonde girl saved from Greek gypsy camp are from the US as videos emerge of 'parents' making her dance for cash




  • Child understood to be 4 was found in Greek gypsy settlement last week
  • She is now at the center of an international appeal to uncover her identity
  • Charity claims she was treated like 'dancing bear' by family she lived with
  • Out of 8,000 calls, only eight were promising and of those, four were from the United States
  • Couple she was found living with - Hristos Salis, 39, and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40 - will appear in court in Greece on Monday

By Ben Spencer, Rebecca Evans and James Nye
PUBLISHED: 19:31 EST, 20 October 2013 | UPDATED: 07:12 EST, 21 October 2013





    Dancing reluctantly for the crowd, the blue-eyed, pale-skinned little girl looks lost and out of place.

    The child, filmed just three weeks ago in the crime-ridden Roma settlement where she was found by police, is now at the center of an international appeal to uncover her identity.

    This weekened, a charity caring for the girl, who is known as Maria and understood to be four years old, said she was treated like a ‘dancing bear’ by the family she lived with – who exploited her innocent looks, making her beg for money.

    As DNA tests showed that she is not related to the couple who claimed to be her parents, around 8,000 inquiries have been made about the girl the Greek media has dubbed the 'blonde angel'.

    Eight of them have been described as promising and four of those are from the United States, raising the possibility that the child is American or related to someone living in the country.

    Scroll down for video









    Mystery: Maria - the 'blonde angel' - was found during a crackdown on illegal activities in Roma camps in Greece last week and authorities are now trying to figure out her identity and where she is from

    'We don't have any clue on her origin,' said Panagiotis Paradalis a spokesman for the Smile of the Child charity that is currently caring for the girl, to ABCNews.com.

    'This makes this story a mystery so far. What we're trying to do now is have experts from forensics and anthropologists ... determine her origin.'



    Currently the focus of a global Interpol investigation after she was found in Tabakou gypsy settlement near Farsala, central Greece, during a drug and gun raid last week, police grew suspicious as she bore no resemblance to the couple claiming to be her parents.

     




    DNA tests showed she is not related to Hristos Salis, 39, and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, who have been charged with child abduction. Police said they found a handgun and balaclava at their house.

    The couple are appearing at a courthouse in Larissa today to answer charges of abducting a minor and holding false papers.

    Kostas Katsavos, the couple's lawyer, told Reuters that they adopted Maria with the permission of her biological mother.





    'Dancing bear': A still from a video taken last month shows Maria in the crime-ridden Greek gipsy camp








    Video: The child was filmed just three weeks ago at the Roma settlement in Farsala, central Greece



    He admitted that the adoption was 'non-legal' but said he believes the biological mother will be found soon and will verify the claims.

    A police statement said the couple 'changed repeatedly their story about how they got the child.'

    Their court appearance comes as their family defended two unsettling videos of the little girl, insisting that she was not exploited.

    In the first video, from two years ago, she sucks on a dummy as she is made to twirl for the camera, being pushed and manhandled by a laughing Dimopoulou.

    As she tries to wander off, the woman seizes her back. At one point, a young boy tries to join in, but the woman shoves him away.

    In the latest footage, she appears with Maria Dimitriou, 21, grand-daughter of the gypsy camp’s leader.









    Neat and tidy: The room of the girl understood to be aged four is the only bedroom in her 'family's' house



    'WE LOVE HER... AND SHE LOVES US'


    The woman accused of abducting Maria insisted last night: ‘We did no harm to her. We love her and she loves us.’

    Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, who has been arrested with her husband Hristos Salis, told Greek television from her cell: ‘We gave her everything we could, like we do for our other children.’

    She admitted Maria was not hers but said she presented her as her own ‘so she could have a proper family environment’.

    Salis’s sister Dimitra, 34, told the Daily Mail that Maria had been abandoned by a Bulgarian cotton picker when she was two months old.

    At the family’s small stone hut, she said: ‘The woman told us, “Take this baby. If you do not I will just give it to someone else”. She just left and never came back.’

    She said they took in the child to protect her, adding: ‘We brought her up well, we loved her.’

    Salis’s mother said: ‘The woman who gave birth to her was incapable of looking after her – she did not want her and begged us to take her.’

    Mrs Dimitriou told the Mail: ‘Her mother sent her to join us on the stage. She liked dancing – she was not treated badly.’

    Maria was ‘filthy and terrified’ when social services took her to Athens-based charity Smile of the Child on Wednesday.

    Spokesman Panayiotis Pardalis said: ‘It was obvious that she was not a Roma girl. The little girl was terrified when she first came to us and didn’t talk at all, but she is now calm and has been playing with other kids.’

    Director Costas Yannopoulos added: ‘She was living under bad conditions and was very dirty, but is now safe.’

    She was released from hospital yesterday, after tests were carried out on her teeth to try to determine her age. Mr Yannopoulos said evidence so far suggested she had been trafficked.

    He told the Daily Mail: ‘In the footage you could see her dancing, going round and round like a little trained bear. I believe they were getting money from exploiting the child.’

    Dimopoulou’s daughter Panagiota, 18, who released the footage to local television, defended the video.

    ‘Maria likes dancing,’ she said. ‘She was only pushed in the video because she got too close to the camera. There is no way we would use her for money – that is a lie. We took her in because her mother could not look after her.’





    Seen: A cupboard, again the only one in the house, contained two rows of little girl's shoes and other clothes





    The Roma camp in Farsala, Greece, where the yet unidentified blond four year old girl was discovered

    Last night family members showed the MailOnline the house where Maria was found.



    They revealed a small but tidy brick home and claimed the only bedroom – with the only bed, a pink bedspread and cuddly toys – was reserved for her use.

    A cupboard, again the only one in the house, contained little girl’s shoes and other clothes.

    Pictures released by police show the little girl’s blonde hair may have been dyed brown when she was younger – indicating the family may have wanted to hide her difference.

    But another daughter Emmannuella, 16, said Maria’s hair turned blonde naturally.

    Mr Yannopoulos said it was ‘well known’ that ‘there is a baby-trade conducted by gipsies between Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and England.’

    The couple have told various stories – that she was abandoned by a Bulgarian woman, or found on a rubbish tip – but Mr Yannopoulos said it is more likely she is from Scandinavia.

    The couple accused of abducting the girl had used multiple identities to register 14 children in three different cities, of whom only four have been identified, regional police officer Lt. Gen. Vassilis Halatsis said.


    Exploited: Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, is pictured with little Maria in a video shot two years ago


    An examination of the birthdates of the children shows that the woman, at one point, was giving birth every four months, he said.

    Overall, the couple received 2,500 euros ($3,420) per month in state assistance.

    He said: ‘Of the children we have traced so far, just by looking at them you can see that there is very little or no resemblance at all to the parents.

    ‘It is obvious that we are faced with a very well-organized racket, and it is certainly not the only one.’

    Neighbors said the couple gave Maria special treatment because of her blonde hair. One woman, washing children’s clothes in a bathtub, said: ‘She was treasured because she was so beautiful . . . We all loved her.’





    Salis’s brother Kostas added: ‘She had problems with her eyes. We took her to the doctor, we took her everywhere. We didn’t take her to sell her.’

    Haralambos Dimitriou, 57, president of the gipsy settlement, said any conflicting accounts of how Maria came to the family were given ‘out of fear’.

    Marietta Palavra, lawyer for the couple, said: ‘There is nothing but love and care between the Roma parents and the four-year-old girl.’

    She said they could each face up to ten years in prison if convicted.


    WAS MISSING BRITISH TODDLER SEEN AT THE SAME GIPSY CAMP?


    The family of missing British toddler Ben Needham yesterday revealed how Greek police refused to follow up reported sightings of the boy at the same remote gipsy camp where Maria was discovered.



    Disappearance: Ben Needham was 21 months old when he vanished on the Greek island of Kos in 1991


    Ben was 21 months old when he vanished on the Greek island of Kos in 1991.

    His sister Leighanna said officers told them it was too dangerous to enter the Roma settlements to look for him – despite witnesses claiming they had seen a child there matching his description.

    Ben’s grandfather Eddie, 64, tried to search the camps himself but was forced to stop when he was threatened at gunpoint.

    Miss Needham, 20, who was born after her brother disappeared, said: ‘We as a family have strongly believed for a while that Ben was taken by gipsies for illegal adoptions or child trafficking and the discovery of this little girl shows how important it is to never lose hope.’

    She now wants her DNA  tested against Maria’s to determine whether the child could be related to Ben.

    Ben’s mother Kerry, 41, said: ‘The authorities in Greece always told us, “Gipsies  don’t steal babies”. Now we know they do. We are very optimistic this new information may help us find Ben.’

    Five years after Ben disappeared, a local convict called Andonis Bedzios claimed he saw a child matching his description in the care of a well-known gipsy family at the Farsala camp and was told they had ‘got him from Kos’. He gave a statement to police which was never followed up.

    A taxi driver also came forward to say he had seen Ben, from Sheffield, which is an historic former industrial city in the United Kingdom in his cab with a member of the same family.

    But Haralambos Dimitriou, president of the gipsy settlement where Maria was found, said: ‘It is impossible that the little boy was here. At that time it was just tents here – but I would have known if he was here.’

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2469776/Is-Maria-AMERICAN-Half-promising-leads-identifying-little-blonde-girl-saved-Greek-gypsy-camp-US.html#ixzz2iMlzt6Jt
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by ladibug on Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:29 am

I do hope "Maria" was not kidnapped, but really given up to be cared for and that the woman who gave up her baby (unlike so many who just kill their unwanted babies) can be found to verify this.

This Roma couple really seem to treasure her and I found it moving that Maria's room was so thoughtfully decorated with love and obvious sacrifice - and all her little shoes were lined up so neatly- she even had the only cupboard.

Maybe I'm all wrong about this (sure wouldn't be the first time in my life) but I always resent when the news "reporters" try to slant articles and sway opinions by suggestive verbiage. For instance I've actually hosed off my sons when they were little because they made the most wonderful dam and bridge over a giant mud puddle. Had their picture been taken beforehand they would have made this child look shiny clean; and I've watched the video of the baby dancing and it didn't strike me as anything but directing the baby back into view of the camera. And if the recent picture of her dancing was supposed to be exploiting her as a dancing bear - well they aren't very good at it because dancing bears are always dressed up and not wearing a sweatsuit. Has no one ever had their child get muddy hands? And of course no one has ever called "someone get a camera' when their child is dancing-they look so cute. And from my recollections Gypsies dance - it is a happy expressive fun thing they do.

Now the adults will probably go to jail anyway because of the fake ID's to collect extra government money (so we aren't the only country to reward people who can't afford to care for a family for having more children that they can't afford to care for), but I sure hope they didn't really kidnap her. No but if she was, well it would be an incredibly happy miracle for another family.

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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by twinkletoes on Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:34 am

Ladibug, you're right.  The media makes their own agenda sometimes to make something even more sensationalized.  This surely doesn't need any embellishment.

The national news said tonight that she may have been kidnapped because of her unusual looks.  They said she has green eyes although all reports and her pictures show her to have blue eyes.  They are just making up stuff out of nothing.  Not very good reporting. 

I thought how neat and clean her room was speaks well of the people who had her.  Surely they love her even if she does have to perform.

I seriously don't think her name is "Maria".  I'm sure they changed her name, especially since they even dyed her hair.

I hope and pray they find her parents and that they are worthy of her.  She is so beautiful.
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GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by mom_in_il on Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:08 pm

Mystery blond girl found in Greece prompts search for parents

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 7:31 PM EDT, Sat October 19, 2013

(CNN) -- Pale, blond and blue-eyed, the 4-year-old girl looks shyly into the camera.

This is no ordinary photo, though. The little girl pictured is at the center of a mystery.

Police in Greece say they found her Thursday with a Roma couple posing as her parents but have no idea who she is or where her real parents are.

They hope releasing the pictures of her might prompt people to come forward with information.

The girl was discovered during a search of a home in a community of Roma, also known as gypsies, near the town of Larissa in central Greece, police said.


Handout photo released by Greek police shows an unidentified 4-year-old girl who was found on October 17, 2013 near Farsala in central Greece during a crackdown on illegal activities by Roma.

Police first became suspicious because the girl, who is blonde with very pale skin and blue eyes, did not resemble the couple who claimed to be her parents.

When the couple were then questioned, "they changed repeatedly their story about how they got the child," a police statement said, compounding the officers' suspicions.

DNA testing then "showed that there was not any genetic compatibility" between the girl and the 39-year-old man and the 40-year-old woman, the police said, meaning they cannot be her biological parents.

The girl was immediately taken from the couple and entrusted to the care of a charity called The Smile of the Child. The charity said it would look after her "until a solution in the best interest of the child is found."

The two people posing as her parents have been arrested and face charges of abducting a minor, as well as counts of falsifying identity documents, said the state-owned Athens-Macedonian News Agency.

Among the suspect documents found by police was a 2009 birth and baptism registration from Athens authorities, the news agency said.

The 40-year-old woman also had two different valid identification documents and, based on family registration records, appears to have given birth to three children between June and November 1993, and another three children between October 1994 and February 1995, it said.

In fact, the state-run AMNA news agency reported this woman had two family residence registrations indicating she was mother to 10 children -- five girls and a boy in Larissa, plus four girls in Trikala.

The 39-year-old man is registered as the father of four more children.

Greece's government has promised to help the child. In the meantime, the little girl is being given support by a police psychologist, the police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the European Hotline for Missing Children or contact The Smile of the Child.

The girl's discovery will likely prompt speculation she may have been abducted or trafficked -- which, if proven, could serve to fuel prejudice against the Roma community within Greece and elsewhere.

Rights group Amnesty International has called on the European Union to take action to end discrimination against the 6 million Roma, describing them as "the largest and most disadvantaged minority in the region."

In May, Amnesty International said Greece had been found guilty of discrimination against Roma schoolchildren in three separate rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/19/world/europe/greece-mystery-child/


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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by mom_in_il on Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:38 pm

Christos Salis, Eleftheria Dimopoulou Charged with Abducting Girl ‘Maria’

By Associated Press | October 21, 2013
Last Updated: October 21, 2013 12:17 pm



Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou were identified as the suspects charged with kidnapping a girl named “Maria.”

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Police in Greece have released photographs of a couple charged with abducting a girl known “Maria” and taken them into pre-trial custody.

An international search for the young girl’s parents has intensified.

A 39-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman, identified as Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, were detained Monday on charges of abduction and document fraud following their arrest last week.

Police raided a Roma encampment near the central Greek town of Farsala and found the girl, who a DNA test has shown is not the couple’s child.

The case has triggered a global outpouring of sympathy and possible tips to police about the case but no breakthrough yet in identifying the child.

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/324896-christos-salis-eleftheria-dimopoulou-charged-with-abducting-girl-maria/?photo=2


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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by mom_in_il on Tue Oct 22, 2013 4:41 pm

Greek police release photos of Gypsy abduction suspects

CBS/AP/ October 21, 2013, 12:36 PM


In these handout photos taken on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, Greek Roma Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, or Selini Sali (the woman has two separate sets of identity papers), and Christos Salis, 39, are seen in the Larisa regional police headquarters. They have been charged with abduction of a child, reportedly named Maria, found with them last Wednesday at a Gypsy settlement. / Getty Images,Greek Police/AP Photo

ATHENS, Greece Police in Greece have released photographs of a couple charged with abducting a girl known as "Maria" and taken them into pre-trial custody.

The plight of an unknown girl -- found living with her alleged abductors in a Greek Roma settlement -- has triggered a global outpouring of sympathy and tips, but no breakthrough in identifying the child, authorities said Monday.

The Smile of the Child charity, which is caring for the girl until her parents are found, said Monday that a dental examination showed she is older than previously thought - five or six years old, instead of four.

The girl was found last week in a Gypsy (or Roma) settlement near Farsala in central Greece as police searched for drugs, firearms and fugitives. The blond, blue-eyed child was strikingly unlike the couple she lived with, and a later DNA test showed she was not their child.

A 39-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman appeared Monday before an investigating judge in Larissa, near Farsala, to face criminal charges of child abduction, which carries a maximum ten-year prison sentence.

Police named them as Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou or Selini Sali, as the woman had two separate sets of identity papers.

The suspects have also been charged with illegally obtaining official documents such as birth records.

"CBS This Morning" reports that a family home video, shown to reporters, appears to show the Roma group with the girl when she was about two years old, indicating she has been with the Gypsy community for some time.

Greek investigators are considering everything from potential child trafficking to welfare scams or even simple charity as they seek the child's biological parents.

Both have denied the charges, last week claiming they adopted the child while she was just days old.

A defense lawyer said they were motivated by charity after being approached by an intermediary for a destitute foreign mother.

"Our clients' claim is that 'We never abducted this child, we just adopted', in a way non-legal," said their lawyer, Kostas Katsavos.

Police allege the Roma woman claimed to have given birth to six children in less than 10 months, while 10 of the 14 children the couple had registered as their own are unaccounted for.

It is unclear whether the children exist or were made up to milk the Greek welfare system. Police say the two suspects received about 2,500 euros ($3,420) a month in subsidies from three different cities.

The man also faces separate charges for allegedly possessing an illegal firearm and drug-related offenses.

   Greek Gypsies fear backlash after blond girl found in camp
   Blond, blue-eyed girl in Greek gypsy camp sparks child trafficking worries

Greek police have sought assistance from Interpol, the international police agency, which has 38 girls younger than six on its missing persons database. None of them, however, fit the mystery girl's description.

The Smile of the Child charity has received more than 8,000 calls and thousands of emails about the little girl from people from the U.S., Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, Australia and South Africa.

"The case has touched a chord with lots of people from many countries," Panayiotis Pardalis, a spokesman for the charity, told The Associated Press on Monday. "This case is now giving hope to parents of missing children."

He said the charity has received photos of missing children and potentially connected cases, "which we are forwarding to the police," but mostly people were just conveying their concern.

The story has resonated particularly in Britain, where the tabloid press drew parallels with missing girl Madeleine McCann, who disappeared at age three from a Portuguese resort six years ago. The mother of Ben Needham, a British boy missing in Greece since 1991, said she was thrilled by the news of the mystery girl's recovery. Her toddler was 21 months old when he vanished on the island of Kos.

Greece's Roma community has for centuries been exposed to poverty and discrimination. According to the London-based Minority Rights Group, some 80 percent of Greece's 300,000 Roma are illiterate. They are already stereotyped by some in Greece and elsewhere as social outcasts, thieves and beggars -- and now they fear they will be stigmatized as child traffickers as well.

The case "doesn't reflect on all of us," Babis Dimitriou, president of the local Roma community, told the AP.

BBC News reports that the Roma community has rallied around the couple, saying they looked after her well. The head of the Roma association in Farsala told the BBC the pair treated "Maria" better than their biological children, and that she loved them.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57608467/greek-police-release-photos-of-gypsy-abduction-suspects/
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by twinkletoes on Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:40 pm

American couple: Is mystery girl found in Roma camp our missing daughter?


The FBI is joining the international authorities searching for the parents of the 4-year-old girl now known as "Maria," who was found in a Roma camp. NBC's Michelle Kosinski reports.

By Carlo Angerer and Henry Austin, NBC News

ATHENS -- An American couple whose baby daughter vanished from their Kansas City home two years ago has contacted authorities in Greece who are trying to solve the mystery surrounding a blond girl found in a Roma camp. 

Reuters
Lisa Irwin vanished from her home in Kansas City, Mo., in Oct. 2011.

Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley, whose 10-month-old daughter Lisa Irwin disappeared in October 2011, got in touch with the The Smile of a Child charity that is heading up the hunt for the girl's biological parents, a spokesman confirmed to NBC News on Tuesday.

John Picerno, a lawyer for the family, said he had contacted the FBI and the couple’s interest in the girl’s discovery had been registered.


"The (FBI) agent has made an official inquiry through governmental channels with the authorities in Greece," he said. "We are awaiting a response from them, which we anticipate will be forthcoming as soon as possible."
Lisa Irwin has not been seen since October 4, 2011, when her father came home from work to find the door unlocked, the lights on and the crib empty.

The chances of the  girl -- who is known as Maria -- being Lisa Irwin appeared to be slim because a dental examination suggested Maria is between five and six years old.  

“We enquire about every child that is found and fits the age profile of Lisa,” Picerno told Britain's Telegraph newspaper. “We investigate all leads.”

A spokesman for The Smile of a Child charity told NBC News that of the 10,000 calls and emails they received around eight or 10 were being more closely looked into, including cases in the U.S., Sweden, Poland and France. 

Police raiding a Roma – or Gypsy – camp in central Greece found a young fair-skinned, blonde girl who was living with a couple later proven not to be her parents. NBC's Michelle Kosinski reports.

Kostas Giannopoulos, the charity's president, said that although Maria remained in a Greek hospital, she was in "good condition" and making progress.

“She is happy and playing” he said. “She has learned Greek words better than expected so we are very positive.”

Previously, Maria had only spoken a few words in the Roma dialect as well as Greek, although police think she may be of northern or eastern European origin, possibly from Scandinavia or Bulgaria. 

Giannopoulos added that she had been a little picky about her food and a little stubborn.

“When communicating she mostly communicates about the present and not the past," he added.

Maria was spotted peeking out from under a blanket last Wednesday as police swept the Roma settlement for suspected drug trafficking near Farsala, a small town around 170 miles north of Athens. Roma also have been called Gypsies, though that term is considered derogatory.

Greek Police via Reuters
Eleftheria Dimolpoulou, left, and Christos Salis, right, are seen with Maria. Officers told Reuters the couple gave at least five conflicting accounts of how the child ended up with them, including that she was found outside a supermarket.

Confused that her coloring did not match that of Christos Salis, 39, and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, who were claiming to be her parents, police ran DNA tests and discovered they were not biologically related. 

Officers told Reuters the couple gave at least five conflicting accounts of how the child ended up with them, including that she was found outside a supermarket.  

The woman had two different identification documents and other papers suggested the couple had up to 14 children, but six were registered as having been born within less than 10 months. They received 2,790 euros ($3,800) a month in child benefits, a police source told Reuters.

The couple faced magistrates on Monday to respond to charges of abduction and procuring false documents but were ordered to be held in custody until they face trial. A date has not been set. 

They denied snatching Maria and said her mother handed the girl to them shortly after giving birth, one of their lawyers
Constantinos Katsavos, told reporters outside the court. 

She's being called the "blonde angel," and it was a four-year-old girl's blonde hair and pale skin that led to her rescue. The search is now on for her parents. NBC's Duncan Golestani reports.


"It was an adoption that was not exactly legal but took place with the mother's consent," he said, adding that is what the couple testified.

Police have sent Interpol a file with all the evidence they have on the girl, including DNA samples, to seek a possible match with records of missing children.

The possibility of a smuggling ring - in which pregnant women were brought into Greece from Bulgaria and their children put up for sale - was also being investigated, according to Greek state-owned news agency Amna.

Meanwhile, in the Republic of Ireland, police on Monday removed a blue eyed, blonde haired seven-year-old girl from a Roma family.

Officials had gotten a tip-off that a young girl was living with the large family but looked nothing like her brothers and sisters, Ireland's Sunday World reported on Tuesday. The child has been taken into care while the investigation is ongoing, the paper reported.

NBC News' Katerina Voussoura and Reuters contributed to this report. Henry Austin reported from London.

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/22/21073879-american-couple-is-mystery-girl-found-in-roma-camp-our-missing-daughter

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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by mom_in_il on Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:15 pm

Is gypsy girl 'Maria' the missing Baby Lisa? FBI joins investigation as Missouri parents await answers

Published October 22, 2013
FoxNews.com

An American couple whose daughter disappeared in 2011 is asking Greek police to check whether or not she is “Maria,” a blue-eyed blond girl who was found living with alleged abductors at a gypsy camp.



  • A comparison of an undated photo released by Greek authorities of “Maria,” a girl found living in a Gypsy camp, and an age-progression image of Lisa Irwin, right, who disappeared from a Kansas City, Mo. home in 2011. Lisa was 10 months old when she vanished. She would turn 3 years old in November. (AP/Greek Police/National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

The parents of Lisa Irwin, Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin, of Kansas City, said they have contacted their local FBI office which has reached out to Greek authorities through governmental channels.

“We are waiting to hear back from law enforcement,” their lawyer, John Picerno, said on Tuesday, according to the Kansas City Star.

"Maria," who is believed to 5 or 6 years old, was taken into protective care last week after DNA tests established that the couple looking after her could not be her biological parents.

Bradley and Irwin say someone broke into their Kansas City home in 2011 and kidnapped Lisa -- who was then ten months old -- while she slept.

"Because of the physical similarities between Lisa and Maria we have contacted the authorities here, as well as overseas, and are waiting for their responses," the couple wrote in an email to Sky News. Lisa would turn 3 years old in November.

The inquiry is reportedly one of eight leads being taken seriously by Greek police as authorities are working to uncover “Maria’s” identity.

Another three are in the U.S. while there are one each in Canada, Sweden, France and Poland, The Telegraph reports. No one has yet come forth to claim “Maria” as their daughter.

The Athens-based Smile of the Child charity, which is looking after the girl, said they have received thousands of calls and emails about “Maria.”

Interpol has searched its missing children database and found 38 girls under the age of six, but none of them matched “Maria’s” description, The Telegraph reports.

In Greece, a prosecutor on Tuesday ordered an emergency nationwide investigation into birth certificates.

Supreme Court prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani ordered the inquiry for birth certificates issued after Jan. 1, 2008, amid news media reports of potential benefits fraud by families declaring births in multiple regions.

The couple who claimed to be “Maria’s” parents have been jailed on charges of abduction and document fraud, The Associated Press reports.

The two suspects, ages 39 and 40, deny the abduction allegations, claiming they received the child from a destitute woman to bring her up as their own.

Authorities allege the female suspect claimed to have given birth to six children in less than 10 months, while 10 of the 14 children the couple had registered as their own are unaccounted for.

Police say the two suspects received about $3,420 a month in subsidies from three different cities.

On Monday, the mayor of Athens ordered the suspension of three officials in charge of record-keeping. New parents have three months to declare their newborns. Investigators in Athens found a large number of babies had been recently declared at or near the end of that deadline, sending up a red flag because they suspected some were multiple declarations to claim benefits.

Meanwhile, sources told Sky News Tuesday that another blue-eyed blond girl, believed to be around 7 years old and living with a gypsy family in Dublin, Ireland, was also taken into protective care.

The sources said police received a tip from a member of the public on Monday amid heightened concerns over “Maria’s” discovery.

The parents told authorities that the girl was their daughter and showed police documents, but officers weren’t satisfied, according to the BBC.

The child is now in the hands of Ireland’s Health Services while the parents are being questioned by police, Sky News reports.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/10/22/greek-prosecutor-orders-birth-certificate-investigation-in-mystery-girl-maria/
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by mom_in_il on Tue Oct 22, 2013 9:19 pm

Maria mystery deepens with claims her father came to visit
Neighbours of a Roma couple accused of keeping a kidnapped toddler at their encampment in Greece claimed last night that her real father had come to look for her soon after she was taken away by police.

By Kostas Kallergis in Farsala, Colin Freeman and Sam Marsden
7:00AM BST 21 Oct 2013

The four-year-old, known only as Maria, is the subject of an international police inquiry after Greek police released her photograph at the weekend, appealing for her parents to come forward.

A Roma couple from the village of Farsala in central Greece are due in court today accused of abducting her from her natural parents, whom police believe are either from northern or eastern Europe – in a case that has invited comparisons with the missing British girl Madeleine McCann.

Last night, though, fellow residents of Farsala's ramshackle gipsy quarter claimed that the couple had a long-standing arrangement with a Bulgarian family to look after the girl, who had lived in Farsala since she was a baby.

Babis Dimitriou, the chairman of the Farsala village Roma association, told The Daily Telegraph: "There was a Bulgarian husband and wife who were working around Greece in temporary jobs, who used to stay here sometimes.

"At one point they left the girl to be raised by the family here in the village.

"The family raised the child as if it was their own, although her father would come back every now and then to see her. The last time he visited was only five days ago, after the arrests had been made.

"All the other Roma here were telling the Bulgarian man to explain to the police that the girl was his, but he has now disappeared." While Mr Dimitriou's account was backed by other residents, Greek police are continuing to investigate the possibility that the blonde, blue-eyed child had been taken without her parents' consent.

Several other theories are emerging as to the origins of the girl.

A couple from Thessaloniki have gone to the police and said that Maria could be their daughter, after their child was reported to have died at birth. The couple claim that they exhumed the coffin and found the body was missing.

"We suspected that our child had fallen victim to traffickers, and was not dead as initially we had been told," the father told Greece's Star newspaper. He had never seen her body, he said.

"And since then we have been looking for our child," he said. Their child was born in 2009 – making her the same age as Maria – and the father, who has near relatives in Scandinavia, said there were many common features and characteristics with his family and Maria. A son, born since they lost their daughter, has the same coloured eyes.

The father said that they were waiting for the results of the DNA tests, and if Maria was their lost child they would take her back. If not, they would carry on their search.

Another theory is that Maria was put up for adoption, but then rejected owing to "problems" with her eyes.

The police have refused to comment on the claims.

The arrested couple allegedly gave police varying accounts as to how she came to be with them, at one point claiming that she had been abandoned outside a supermarket, and at another saying that she been given to them by her Bulgarian mother. Yesterday, a British expert on missing persons inquiries said that the appeal through Interpol had generated a huge response.

Charlie Hedges, the manager for missing and abducted children at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, part of the newly-formed National Crime Agency, said: "The responses to this particular inquiry have run into the thousands, with quite a few calls from families wondering if this girl may be theirs.

"The challenge in this case is to find out from a four-year-old girl what her original background is, as she may not have that much knowledge of it herself." Yesterday, the family of Ben Needham, a British toddler who disappeared from his grandparents' home on the Greek island of Kos in 1991, said they hoped the case might offer new leads to his disappearance.

Mr Hedges said that while the UK Missing Persons Bureau was checking its databases for children who might be Maria, there was as yet "no specific lead to the UK".

It has been speculated that forensic anthropologists could be used to help identify roughly where the girl came from by studying her facial features, although last night, an expert in the field said that would be difficult.

Prof Sue Black, of the University of Dundee, said: "There is no way in which facial appearance can pin people to a particular part of the world any more because we are so cosmopolitan." Instead, she said that social, linguistic or cultural anthropologists could try to tease out whether the girl knew any words of a particular language.

The encampment where Maria was found is one of three on the outskirts of Farsala, a town of 18,000 people about 200 miles north-west of Athens.

Police carried out a drug raid there on Wednesday, and discovered her living in a single-storey shack on a street where barefoot children play among chickens, cats and dogs.

Yesterday, locals insisted that the girl had been well looked after, with her adoptive mother taking her to a local clinic occasionally for treatment for an eye problem.

"This gipsy mother was the only mother this girl has ever had," said Christos Lioupis, a Greek farmer with many Roma friends locally. "The biological mother was not her real one because she abandoned the girl." A Greek television station interviewed a man calling himself Kostas, who claimed to be the brother of the arrested man and said the girl was very loved and cared for. "We got this girl in a very nice way," he said. "We raised her. We got her. She was given to us and we raised her." However, the director of the Greek charity that is now caring for Maria said he suspected that she had been used for begging by her adoptive Roma family.

Costas Giannopoulos, the director of the Child's Smile organisation, told the BBC: "They will use this little girl in the streets to beg because she was blonde and cute." Authorities alleged that the Roma mother claimed to have given birth to six children in a total of less than 10 months, while 10 of the 14 children that the couple registered as their own are unaccounted for.

Greek television also broadcast a video, said to have been handed to police by the arrested couple, in which the girl was shown dancing in a backyard.

Her hair appeared to be darker than in the pictures which emerged following her release, suggesting it had possibly been dyed to disguise her.

A spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, who have been searching for their daughter since she vanished from their holiday apartment in Portugal in 2007, said the discovery of the girl in Greece gave them renewed hope that they would find Madeleine alive.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/10392700/Maria-mystery-deepens-with-claims-her-father-came-to-visit.html
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by ladibug on Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:23 am

Little Maria: not a “blonde angel”, but an “albino Gypsy”?
Thursday, October 24, 2013 12:50

What??? The biological parents of “blonde angel” Maria are not blonde? How could this happen? Can a geneticist explain how did a dark-haired and dark-skinned Roma woman give birth not to one but to two little blonde Gypsy angels? Or aren’t they “blonde angels” anymore? Now that it was DNA-proven that blonde girl found in Roma camp in Farsala was not on Interpol’s list of missing European and American children. Now that chances are high, as latest information from Bulgaria hints, that the girl might indeed a Roma child given by her real Roma parents to her fake Roma parents in what it seems to have been an ‘illegal adoption’ according to our Western society rules but a ‘legal adoption’ among the Roma culture?


Maria, Sasha Ruseva holding her red-dyed kid

OK, no DNA-test result has come out yet from blood samples from Bulgarian Sasha Ruseva, 35, and her husband Atana Rusev, 37, a Roma couple living in the village of Nikolaevo in Bulgaria. According to Bulgarian news agency bgnes, Sasha and Atana gave blood samples on Thursday, the DNA result is expected in due time.

   “Alleged mother Sasha was more than willing to undergo a DNA test to ascertain if Mary is indeed the daughter, told the officers that if tests show that the child is hers, then she wants to get her back .

   Husband Atana told reporters “And how do I know that the child is mine? Take my blood to clarify the situation .”

   According to the Bulgarian National Television citing the mother, the Roma woman testified, she was in Greece a few years ago and gave birth to the child but she handed over to another Roma family as she did not have money to keep it.

   Bulgarian newspaper Trud notes, the family is registered in the records of the municipality of nine children , aged 2-20 years , but the mother claims to have given birth ten times.” (AP)

Sasha claimed, she did not get money for the child, local and international media claim, she had received 250 euro. Furthermore, Greek media published birth certificates from Lamia hospital not far away from the Roma camp in Farsala giving hints that Maria was born in Greece by Sasha.

Greek and foreign media rushed to the forgotten village in Nikoloevo and besieged the Rusevas’ family home. They experienced a surprise. The mother,  meager, dark-skinned and dark-haired Sasha, has ten children and lives in a house in a stage to fall apart. Among Sasha’s ten children reporters identified two blonde boys and a girl with red hair.

[There is a video that cannot be displayed in this feed. Visit the blog entry to see the video.]

“Are all these kids Saha’s kids?” I heard a Greek journalist asking on Greek TV. So …multi-colored haired? Is this possible? To comfort the penetrating questions, one Greek internet user suggested “all the Ruseva kids and the parents should undergo a DNA-test”.

Or not. Not necessary, I may dare say. Two days ago in Dublin, the DNA-test to two blonde Roma kids forcefully removed from the parents proved that they were indeed the biological offspring of their dark-skinned parents. the kids were removed form the families after concerned citizens complaint to police. The citizens were influenced by the story of “blonde angel” Maria that had made headlines worldwide. In Ireland human rights groups call for ombudsman to investigate Roma family removals.

Two of Ruseva’s children in their home in Bulgaria.

But not here, not in Greece. Not yet. Not until the DNA-test proves Maria is indeed Sasha’s daughter.

According to the latest information coming from Bulgaria, it is highly possible, that little Maria is not the blonde angel “abducted from Finland or Holland or even Poland” – as media and some professors speculated last week, but an ordinary albino Gypsy, as alleged mother Sasha claimed, according to UK’s Daily Mail.

Dancing bears, snatched kids…

Now, look at this: Hundreds of parents’ of missing children from Europe and America were on wrong alert. Their hopes flew high and landed violently with a new trauma, when the DNA samples they sent to Interpol proved that they didn’t match with this of little Maria.

Why all this worldwide fuzz and buzz? Was it due to a dilettante, embarrassing,  and even success-gearing communication management of  such a sensitive issue? On part of the police, the media and anyone else involved in the case? Turnings into news personal assumptions and prejudice-loaded connotations that at the age of two, Maria would dance like a trained bear?

After all we’ve heard, read and saw (my own writing included) it doesn’t really matter if the DNA of Maria and Sasha match. It doesn’t really matter, if Maria was sold for money or was handed out for free due to poverty. It doesn’t really matter, if the family and other Roma families sell or just give their children for adoption most probably to middle-class couples who pay 10,000-25,000 euro just to hear a child laugh and dance in their yard.

“Illegal adoptions” or “unofficial adoptions” as they call it in the Western world, will continue and after the mystery of Maria’s origin is solved. Of course, it matters but not in the sense I’m writing here.

At the very end it may turn out that Maria is not even the daughter of this Roma woman in Bulgaria but she was handed over and over again among several families and for some reason her story is endless and full of suspense.

…and our deep-rooted prejudice

What it shocks me more is that we get bears dancing in our heads, when we see a blonde child in a Roma yard. That we are easily disturbed and eager to complaint to police and make the world turn around in buzzing speed.

And that we don’t even think to show reaction, if we see a dark-skinned child in a yard of blondes. We assume, that it was adopted and we praise the parents for saving the life of a poor child. We would never complaint to police and question whether the couple was involved in an official or unofficial adoption with a …gypsy family. We are in peace with our conscience that somebody showed mercy to a poor, abandoned and unloved child. “Bad” are the gypsies because they sell their children, “good” are we for we adopt them.

Don’t get me wrong and it’s light years away from my intention to offend anyone.

But the case of little blonde angel Maria exposed something lurking deep inside us, whether in Greece or in foreign countries. That we accepted very easily and took for granted or were almost convinced that the blonde child was “snatched by gypsies”, one of the deepest rooted prejudices in our Western world.

And that is very shocking and not political correct at all, even we call the Gypsies “Roma“.

… and while I was writing this critical approach here came the Greek reality again and caught me asleep: Following a tip-off police arrested a couple that had recently bought a some months old child from a Roma woman in Athens for 4,000 euro. Newsit.gr reports that dozens of phone calls reached the police during the last days, with “concerned citizens” denouncing couples who had suddenly appeared with a child.

PS From the some 58,860 people who visited KTG’s post on little Maria in the very first 24 hours, only one woman on Twitter suggested “the blonde girl might indeed be a Roma girl.” Only one.

A couple of days later, a KTG-reader from Germany drew again my attention to the issue.

And a last word: The Council of Europe issued a statement speaking of “irresponsible media reporting on Roma propagate negative myths“. No, dear, Council of Europe, it’s not just the media, it’s also those in charge who pass and stir such information to the media.

http://beforeitsnews.com/international/2013/10/little-maria-not-a-blonde-angel-but-an-albino-gypsy-2470836.html

This just may have a happy ending after all!
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by mom_in_il on Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:03 am

Bulgarian woman claims she's Maria's mom: 'We gifted her' to Roma family

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 10:16 PM EDT, Thu October 24, 2013

(CNN) -- A Bulgarian woman claims she is the mother of the blond, blue-eyed girl taken by police from a Roma couple in Greece last week.

The mystery of "Maria," who is believed to be 5 to 6 years old, prompted an international search for the girl's biological family and answers to how she ended up in a Roma community in central Greece.

The woman told Bulgarian investigators that she left the girl in Greece with a family she worked for in 2009, Bulgarian Interior Ministry General Secretary Svetlozar Lazarov said Thursday.

"We gave her, we gifted her, without money," Sashka Ruseva told Bulgaria's TV7 Thursday. "I didn't take any money. I didn't have any food to give to the kid. I saw it yesterday and I've been sick. I haven't eaten since last night."

Maria's photograph has been broadcast worldwide.

Her 15-year-old son also spoke to reporters outside of the police station where they were questioned. Isak Ruseva said his mother "became sad and started crying" when she saw the child in television Wednesday.

"They didn't sell the girl," he said. "They didn't have money to come back and that's why they left her."

DNA testing set for Friday

A DNA sample will be taken from Ruseva on Friday for comparison with the child in Greece, Lazarov told CNN. Greek officials did not respond when CNN asked if they were providing the child's DNA results to Bulgarian authorities.

Greek authorities charged the Roma couple who had Maria until last week -- Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, and Christos Salis, 39 -- Roma couple with abducting the child. They appeared in court Monday and were both remanded into custody pending trial.

Authorities initially asked questions about Maria because she has fair skin and blond hair, while the couple who said they were her parents have darker complexions typical of Roma, a people descended from Indian nomads and who face widespread discrimination in Europe.

Medical tests showed she wasn't their daughter, authorities have said. The girl's DNA didn't match any profile in Interpol's database, the international law enforcement agency said Tuesday.

Their lawyers say the couple took the child into their home after her biological mother, who they say was from Bulgaria, was unable to look after her.

Residents of the Roma community backed that assertion in interviews with CNN.

"Maria used to play here with the other children and go to the store with her mum. Maria was not hidden away," Maria Kaleas said. "The mother gave her away and Eleftheria was enchanted by Maria's beauty. She shared the food for her own children with Maria."

Interpol said Greek authorities have asked for its help in finding out Maria's identity. "Until now, a comparison of the girl's profile against Interpol's global DNA database has not produced a match," Interpol said in a news release.

The agency has more than 600 missing people listed on its website, 32 of whom are 5 or 6 years old.

A spokesman for a Greek children's charity said that about 10 cases of missing children around the world are "being taken very seriously" in connection with Maria's case.

"They include children from the United States, Canada, Poland and France," said Panagiotis Pardalis of the Smile of the Child charity.

The Smile of the Child said the girl, who was found a week ago, is being cared for in a group home.

Blond child returned to Roma family in Ireland
Source: Girl is Roma couple's daughter

As Maria's story became global news, another mystery emerged in Dublin, Ireland when authorities took a blond, blue-eyed girl from a Roma couple there. Police, acting on a tip, removed the 7-year-old girl from a home on Monday and placed her in protective care.

But the child was returned to the couple after DNA test confirmed she is their daughter, a source familiar with the case's legal proceedings told CNN on Wednesday.

The parents, who live in the suburb of Tallaght, told CNN they have a passport for the girl, but they do not call her by the name on the passport.

Their attorney said the couple is going to take some time before considering their legal options, the British Press Association reported.

"Her parents greatly appreciate the help and assistance that they have been given by friends and relatives over the last few days," Waheed Mudah told the PA. "They now intend to concentrate on looking after their family and, in particular, in trying to reassure their daughter that she will be in their care."

Prejudice against the Roma

Prejudice and discrimination against the Roma are widespread in Greece and elsewhere in Europe, Amnesty International says.

Maria's case plays into old prejudices about them stealing children for forced labor.

Pardalis, with the charity now caring for her, mentioned such a possibility, saying, "We don't have any other information if this girl was forced to work or to beg on streets."

The Greek government news agency also raised "the possibility of the existence of a ring bringing pregnant women to Greece from Bulgaria and then taking their children for sale." The agency cited past reports that empty coffins had been found for infants who supposedly were stillborn to foreign mothers in Athens.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/24/world/europe/europe-mystery-girls/
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by mom_in_il on Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:08 am

Greece girl Maria's real mum 'is Bulgarian farm hand who was too poor to keep her'

24 Oct 2013 12:39

Police believe Sasha Ruseva - who already had two children when she fell pregnant in 2008 - sold her blonde-haired daughter to child traffickers
AFP/Getty

The mother of 'blonde angel' Maria rescued from a Greek gypsy camp is a Bulgarian farm hand who was too poor to keep her, police believe.

Sasha Ruseva, 35, already had two children and was picking olives in the coastal town of Livanates, Greece, when she fell pregnant in 2008, it was claimed today.

Unable to cope, Sasha sold the unwanted tot to the highest bidders - a group of child traffickers.

A mysterious Bulgarian middleman known as 'Michalis' and his prostitute partner then offered baby Maria around central Greece before her adoptive gypsy parents paid 1,000 Euro to keep her.

Greek cops were yesterday liaising with their Bulgarian counterparts to trace Sasha and her husband Atanas Rusev, 37.

According to public records in Bulgaria, Sasha left the country in 2008 before returning in 2011.

A copy of Maria’s birth certificate seen by the Mirror says she was born on January 31, 2009 at Lamia General Hospital.

Sasha told doctors she was not married at the time, sources said.

A note with the birth certificate filed at Lamia town hall reads: "She is married, while in the hospital said he is unmarried and has the surname of her husband. We expect judgment "

Sasha's identity card shows she is originally from Burgas on the eastern coast of Bulgaria but it is not known where she returned to after leaving Greece.

The revelations add weight to the story given to the authorities by Maria's foster parents - Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, and husband Hristos Salis, 39.

They are currently in custody pending trial on abduction charges. They admit buying her but say it was adoption in a "non-legal way".

The little girl was found when police raided a gypsy camp in Farsala, a tiny town 180 miles north of Athens, last week.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/greece-girl-marias-real-mum-2487441
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by ladibug on Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:49 pm

A Bulgarian Roma couple are the biological parents of a four-year-old blonde girl found in Greece last week, DNA tests showed on Friday, clearing some of the mystery around a case that has captured global attention.

Bulgarian prosecutors are investigating whether the mother, Sasha Ruseva, 35, sold her child. Ruseva denies this, but admits leaving a seven-month-old baby in Greece - where she was working as an olive-picker - in 2009 because she could not look after the child and had to return to Bulgaria.

The case has illustrated the plight of Roma gypsies in Bulgaria, the European Union's poorest member state. Many spend their lives close to destitution, illiterate and on the fringes of society.

The four-year-old, called Maria and dubbed the "blonde angel" by Greek media, was found last week by police at a Roma settlement in central Greece. DNA tests showed the Roma couple she was with were not her biological parents.

The couple say the girl was given to them by her mother who could not look after her, but they have been charged with abducting a minor and detained.

The case reminded some of the disappearance of three-year-old Briton Madeleine McCann in Portugal in 2007. Maria is being looked after by a Greek charity, which says it has received thousands of calls from as far away as the United States and Sweden with supposed leads on Maria's possible identity.

The search narrowed this week to a Bulgarian Roma couple, Sasha Ruseva and her husband Atanas Rusev.

"DNA analysis proved that Sasha Ruseva is the biological mother of the girl named Maria," Interior Ministry Chief Commissioner Svetlozar Lazarov told reporters.

"It also showed Atanas Rusev as the biological father."

He declined to comment on whether Bulgaria would now seek the return of Maria. Local social services authorities said they were ready to accommodate the girl if necessary.

"At a later stage, we will take measures to protect the child and perhaps she will be placed in a foster family," said Diana Kaneva, head of the agency for social assistance in the area.

Ruseva and her 37-year-old husband, parents of nine other children aged between two and 20, live in a ramshackle house with a mud floor and unfinished roof in the town of Nikolaevo, 280 km (170 miles) east of Sofia.

"We all live in one room - my husband, I and all the kids," the gaunt and dark-haired Ruseva told reporters late on Thursday, holding her naked two-year-old boy Atanas.

"Life is so hard. We have no jobs and we have no money," she said. "I'd like to have my child back if they say she is mine. We have no money to take care of the kids but ..."

GHETTO

The family lives in a Roma ghetto with no paved roads and crumbling homes. Everywhere there are small children, with shabby clothes and no shoes.

"The family lives mostly on social benefits and child support, as both are long-term unemployed," said Milena Dyankova, an official with the state agency for Child Protection.

Many of the local Roma go for seasonal jobs in neighbouring Greece picking olives and oranges, but insist that despite their poverty they would not sell their children.

"If she had sold the child, she would have built a big house," says Angel Rusev, brother of Maria's father. He said he had taken care of the children when the parents were working in Greece between 2008 and 2010.

Whatever the truth of Maria's case, Bulgarian authorities insist some infants have been sold in Greece.

"What we witness is a traffic of pregnant, predominantly Roma women to Greece, where they give birth and sell their babies to Greek couples," said an official at the national commission against people-trafficking, who declined to be named.

"They are often promised about 5,000 levs ($3,500), but often end up with quite less," the official said.

According to the commission, 38 women were identified as victims of such trafficking, mainly to Greece, in 2012, up from 29 in 2011.

Since Maria's discovery, two more cases of suspected child-trafficking have emerged in Greece and are being investigated. In Ireland, two blond, blue-eyed children were briefly removed from Roma families until DNA tests confirmed their parentage, in what some minority rights advocates describe as a spasm of anti-Roma hysteria.

There are an estimated 10 million Roma across Europe. The Council of Europe, which monitors human rights, says they suffer widespread discrimination.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/10/25/uk-greece-girl-bulgaria-idUKBRE99O0MS20131025
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by ladibug on Sat Oct 26, 2013 12:07 am

pray for this little girl. I hope the state doesn't "kidnap" her and give her to wealthy people - for 1000's of years children grew up happy and healthy running barefoot on dirt floors - with their family that loved them, and Maria had lots of shoes with the Greek family. What a shame that they were stealing from the government as I think she had a good home there. How about governments making welfare payments contingent on using birth control. Schools give it away free, I guess social services could too.

It's a tough call I guess, but I'm for children being with family; caring, loving family because, well, they're family.
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by ladibug on Sat Oct 26, 2013 12:24 am

Wow, I just get more confused. I just want to think the best of people...

"But Bulgarian officials suspect Sasha sold the youngster to the highest bidders – a group of child traffickers.

They believe a shady Bulgarian middleman known as Michalis and his prostitute partner then touted Maria around central Greece before selling her on for 1,000 euros – about £850.

SNIP
Detectives believe the couple were planning to put the youngster up for sale as a child bride. In some Roma communities girls commonly marry at 12 and their families get a hefty dowry from the new in-laws.

Fair-skinned Maria would have been a prized “investment”. "


Check out all the latest News, Sport & Celeb gossip at Mirror.co.uk http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/greece-girl-marias-mother-many-2528690#ixzz2ihQrXz1G

http://upload.democraticunderground.com/10023916774
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by ladibug on Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:00 am

This is just a snip from a long, mostly duplicate article I posted in the "unresolved" part, but I thought it very poignant:

"Minka Ruseva, a 14-year-old who is one of the family's children, who range in age from two to 20, stood in front of their dilapidated two-room house. Minka said she saw pictures of Maria on TV and thought she was her sister.

"I like her very much, she looks very much like me, and I want her back home. We will take care of her and I can help my mother," she said."

Read more here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/blond-angel-parents-confirmed-as-bulgarian-roma-couple-1.2224891
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Re: GREECE • "Maria" - 4 yo (2013)/ POIs: Hristos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (Selini Sali ) ~ Farsala/Larissa

Post by mom_in_il on Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:50 am

Mystery girl Maria's parents found in Bulgaria by DNA

25 October 2013 Last updated at 13:41 ET

DNA tests have confirmed a Bulgarian Roma couple as the biological parents of mystery child Maria, found in Greece last week, Bulgarian officials say.

They identified the couple as Sasha Ruseva and Atanas Rusev.

The officials are investigating whether the mother had sold the child - a claim she has denied.

Maria was found at a Roma camp in central Greece. Police noticed the lack of resemblance between the blonde girl and the adults she was staying with.

The couple, Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, have since been charged with child abduction. They have insisted the girl was given to them legitimately.

Maria - who was found near Farsala, central Greece - is currently being cared for by the Athens-based charity The Smile of the Child.

There have been thousands of inquiries following an appeal to identify her. The case has also sparked concern over prejudice and racism towards Roma people.
Mother's story

The child's parents - Sasha Ruseva and Atanas Rusev - and their eight children, had been filmed earlier by Bulgarian television at their home in the Roma district of the central town of Nikolaevo.

Ms Ruseva, holding a child with red hair, told reporters that she and her husband had been working in the Greek city of Larisa four years ago when she gave birth to a girl.

The girl was seven months old when they had to return to Bulgaria, and she said she could not afford to take the child with her.

She said she was talking to a woman she worked with who told her: "Give me this child, I will take care of it. You can come and take it back any time you want.

"But I had other children to take care of and I couldn't go... I have never got any money for it."

Bulgarian officials said that during questioning, Ms Ruseva said she had recognised Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou as the people she had left her child with.

Prosecutors have pressed preliminary charges against Ms Ruseva for "deliberately selling a child while residing out of the country".

In Greece, a lawyer representing the couple in the Roma camp near Farsala said on Friday they planned to seek legal custody of Maria.

"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," Costas Katsavos was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

"They truly and ardently want her back," he added.

Maria's biological parents in Bulgaria also say they want to be re-united with her.

However, the head of Bulgaria's social services department, Lidia Hristova, told Reuters: "After an investigation, we will decide what would be best for the child, whether to take her from the family, to offer social service, or so on."

There will now be difficult questions for police both in Greece and Bulgaria, the BBC's Mark Lowen in Athens reports.

He adds that clearly there will still be a legal case against the Greek couple, and possibly against Maria's parents as well.

But Greek police could be left red-faced for making the initial allegations of abduction, our correspondent adds.

Greek news site zougla.gr has published what it says is Ms Ruseva's identity card and a birth certificate for Maria from a hospital in Lamia, not far from Farsala and Larisa.

The birth certificate says the girl was born in January 2009.

Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou have told police Maria was four years old, but the Smile of the Child charity say medical examinations suggest she is more like five or six.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24673804
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