Probe into baby’s empty grave

Police in Thessaloniki yesterday began looking into the disappearance of a baby girl’s body from a local cemetery, which was only discovered because a local prosecutor ordered that the corpse should be exhumed so the cause of the child’s death could be re-investigated. The exhumation had been ordered after the child’s parents claimed that the baby they buried was not their own and that their child is still alive. The unnamed child had been born prematurely at the Ippocrateio Hospital in Thessaloniki in April but died 20 days later. A coroner found that the child died of natural causes after suffering multiple organ failure and that doctors had not been negligent. The child’s parents had asked for an autopsy to be conducted, as they believed the baby may have died as a result of contracting a hospital bug. At the beginning of this month, the parents asked the prosecutor’s office in Thessaloniki to order the child’s body to be dug up because they believed the child buried at Thermi cemetery was not their own. They also claimed that there had been attempts to vandalize the child’s grave. It was only on Tuesday that the parents were given permission to dig up their child’s body in the presence of authorities, so that a second autopsy could be carried out. The grave, however, was empty. «The parents at the moment have hope that their child is alive,» said a family lawyer who asked not be named. Police said that the coroner who carried out the initial autopsy on the girl has retained some of the child’s DNA. This will be sent to forensic laboratories, where scientists will attempt to compare it to the DNA of the child’s parents to determine whether the dead baby was theirs or not. «If the DNA test turns out negative and the sample does not match that of the parents, then we will have an unprecedented case on our hands,» said a police source, who added that it could take up to a month to get the results.

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