News / Europe

Bulgarian Police Find Suspected Mother in Greek 'Maria' Case

The children of Roma woman Sasha Ruseva (not pictured) rest inside their home in Nikolaevo, southern Bulgaria, Oct. 24, 2013. Ruseva is believed to have given birth to the girl named Maria, found by police in a Roma settlement in Greece on Oct. 16.
The children of Roma woman Sasha Ruseva (not pictured) rest inside their home in Nikolaevo, southern Bulgaria, Oct. 24, 2013. Ruseva is believed to have given birth to the girl named Maria, found by police in a Roma settlement in Greece on Oct. 16.
Reuters
Bulgarian police have identified a couple they suspect are the natural parents of a blonde girl found in a Roma camp in Greece, and prosecutors are investigating the woman for selling her child, officials said on Thursday.
 
A four-year-old girl, found living with a Roma couple in central Greece, is seen in a handout photo distributed by the Greek police and obtained by Reuters, Oct. 18, 2013.A four-year-old girl, found living with a Roma couple in central Greece, is seen in a handout photo distributed by the Greek police and obtained by Reuters, Oct. 18, 2013.
x
A four-year-old girl, found living with a Roma couple in central Greece, is seen in a handout photo distributed by the Greek police and obtained by Reuters, Oct. 18, 2013.
A four-year-old girl, found living with a Roma couple in central Greece, is seen in a handout photo distributed by the Greek police and obtained by Reuters, Oct. 18, 2013.
Last week's discovery of four-year-old Maria sparked a global search for her real parents after DNA tests showed the Roma couple she was with were not her blood relatives.
 
Bulgarian police questioned Sashka Ruseva, 38 and her husband, Atanas Rusev, 36, on Thursday in the southern town of Nikolaevo. The couple are also Roma.
 
“The prosecutors' office has opened a pre-trial investigation against S.R. for agreeing to sell her child on an undisclosed date in 2009 in Greece,” the regional prosecutor's office in the southern town of Kazanlak said in a statement.
 
“The probe is opened following checks linked to the female child with the name Maria in Greece,” it said.
 
Ruseva told reporters she had given birth to a girl in Greece in 2009 and had left her there as her family needed to go back to Bulgaria and had no means to support the child.
 
“I do not know whether she is mine or not. We had a child. We left it in Greece as I had nothing to feed her,” she said. “I did not take any money.”
 
Prosecutors said they would check Ruseva's travel movements and carry out DNA tests to establish whether she was indeed the biological mother of Maria.
 
Dozens of journalists have flocked to the poor Roma camp in Nikolaevo, where the Roma couple, their 10 children and another relative live in extreme poverty in a shabby two-room house.
 
Police said in a statement the woman had told them she had recognized the Greek Roma couple with whom Maria was found as the people she had left her child with, after seeing them on TV on Wednesday.
 
If found guilty of selling her child, Ruseva faces up to 6 years in jail and a fine of up to 15,000 levs ($10,600).
 
DNA results pending
 
The Roma couple in Greece have been detained pending trial on charges of abducting a minor. They deny the accusations, saying the girl's biological mother gave her up willingly because she could not raise her.
 
The thin, dark-skinned Ruseva, told reporters she left her baby to a woman in Greece four years ago when she and her husband worked there but needed to go back to Bulgaria to take care of their other children.
 
She said she was not completely certain that Maria was the child she had left behind, but told police the girl resembled some of her other children. If DNA tests proved she was, she said she would like to take her back.
 
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.
 
Greece and Bulgaria have agreed to crack down on an illicit baby trade between the two countries, Greek public order minister Nikos Dendias and Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said in Athens on Thursday.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs