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

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs