Roma couple face abduction and deceit charges

A Roma couple were remanded in custody on Monday for the abduction of a young girl who was found during a police raid on a Roma settlement in Farsala, central Greece, last week, as a charity caring for the child said it had received thousands of queries from citizens with information and parents with missing children.

The pair are to face trial for the abduction of a minor and the deceitful acquisition of official documents.

Police, who have asked for Interpol’s help in finding the girl’s biological parents, released photographs of the couple and identified the man as Christos Salis, 39. The woman has two police identity cards with different names and dates and places of birth, one naming her Eleftheria Dimopoulou, aged 41, and the other naming her Selini Sali, aged 40. The couple reportedly insisted during their testimonies that they had adopted the girl from her birth mother, who they claimed was a Bulgarian national.

The blond-haired child, who has been nicknamed Maria, is aged between 5 and 6, according to dental tests, officials at the Smile of the Child charity said. The nonprofit organization, which has been caring for Maria since she was removed from the Farsala camp, said it had received thousands of calls from Greece and abroad after appealing for information. The charity’s director Costas Yiannopoulos said Maria was “calm and happy” after a difficult transition.

The girl was spotted by police last Wednesday during a raid on the camp in Farsala, near Larissa, when officers noticed that the pale-skinned blond child bore no resemblance to the other residents at the camp. Subsequent DNA tests showed she was not related to the Roma couple who had originally insisted that they were her natural parents before changing their story several times.

In a related development, police raided two Roma camps in Zefyri and Avliza, northern Athens. Officials said the raids were part of routine checks for criminal activity and not linked to the investigation into the case of the girl from the Farsala camp. Nine people were arrested on a string of charges.

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