Fate of Maria in the balance as parents deny cash exchanged

The fate of Maria, a blond girl removed from a Roma camp in central Greece last week, remained unclear on Monday as both her natural mother and the Greek Roma pair who raised her denied claims that she was sold.

A Greek prosecutor for minors is expected to decide whether Maria should be sent to Bulgaria, the home of Sasha Ruseva, 35, and Atanas Rusev, 38, who DNA testing has shown to be the girl’s biological parents, or whether she should return to the camp in Farsala, near Larissa, from which she was removed last week amid suspicions that she had been abducted.

The third option is for Maria to stay in the care of the charity Smile of the Child until her adoption.

The Roma pair from Farsala are expected to appeal their detention on abduction charges. They claim not to have paid Ruseva for Maria. But both sets of parents might be charged with trafficking or illegal adoption.

The Farsala pair is also accused of registering non-existent children to claim state benefits.

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