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Greek court refuses repatriation to Bulgarian Romani child

Athens, 4.6.2014 20:10, (ROMEA)

A five-year-old Bulgarian Romani girl who was found last year by Greek police in a Romani settlement will continue to be raised by the Greek charity organization Smile of the Child. A court has now rejected a request from the Bulgarian authorities to return the girl to her native country. 

News server ČT24.cz reports that the Greek Romani couple who had raised the girl for four years still remain in custody on charges of falsifying documents and kidnapping. "The court has decided it is in the best interests of little Maria for her to remain in our care," the director of Smile of the Child confirmed to news server ČT24.cz.  

The girl will remain under the protection of the Greek foundation until she turns 18. She was removed from the custody of the Greek Romani couple by authorities last October. 

Police officers were searching for unlicensed weapons when they discovered the girl, who bore no physical resemblance to her alleged parents. There was great media interest in her story and the news reached Bulgaria, where her real biological mother heard about it.

It was speculated at the time that the little girl had been sold to the couple. Maria's mother has protested that she never received any money in exchange for her.

Maria's biological parents have since asked that she be returned to Bulgaria. According to the authorities, however, she would now suffer from such a move, as she is unfamiliar with the culture and language there.

Under the care of the orphanage Maria has learned to speak Greek in addition to Romanes. "She's happy, she runs around here like all the other children, she doesn't have any problems. However, we don't know what is happening with her internally, which is why we must be very careful. All of these children receive specialized psychological aid," the Smile of the Child director told ČT24.cz.

voj, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Bulgaria, Osada, Greece, Roma



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