Gypsy mystery solved
NIKOLAEVO, Bulgaria (AP) – The mystery is solved – but the future of the young girl known only as Maria is still uncertain.
DNA tests have confirmed that a Bulgarian Roma couple living in an impoverished village with their nine other children are the biological parents of the girl found in Greece with another Roma couple, authorities said today.
Genetic profiles of Sasha Ruseva, 35, and her husband, Atanas, matched that of Maria, Interior Ministry official Svetlozar Lazarov said today.
Ruseva says she gave birth to a baby girl four years ago in Greece while working as an olive picker but gave the child away because she was too poor to care for her. She since has had two more children after Maria.
Maria has been in a charity’s care since authorities raided a Roma settlement in Greece last week and found she was not related to the Greek Roma couple she was living with. Her discovery triggered a global search for her parents, fears of possible child trafficking and interest from authorities dealing with missing children cases in Poland, France, the United States and elsewhere.
Human rights groups have also raised concerns that the news coverage about Maria and the actions taken by authorities were fueling racist sentiment against the European Union’s Gypsy minority, who number around six million.
The Bulgarian prosecutor’s office and Greek authorities were “seeking clarification on whether the mother agreed to sell the child”, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The Rusevs and their other children live in a dilapidated, mud-floored house outside the remote Bulgarian village of Nikolaevo, 280 kilometres east of the capital, Sofia.