A Roma couple was arrested Wednesday in Greece on suspicion of abducting a two-month-old baby boy -- just days after authorities discovered a blond, blue-eyed girl known as "Maria" living with a duo who weren't her biological parents.
"The initial evidence strongly indicates that they are not the parents," a police official told NBC News, after a man and woman aged in their 20s after they were charged with child abduction on the island of Lesbos. Another person was arrested as part of the same case.
Municipal employees became suspicious when they tried to get a birth certificate for the baby, with a signed statement, as is possible in Greece, instead of producing hospital records, the official added.
After the Maria case hit the headlines, Greece’s Supreme Court this week ordered prosecutors across the country to be alert for any discrepancies on birth certificates going back six years.
Greek Police / AFP-Getty Images
Christos Sali and his wife Eleftheria Dimopoulou have been charged with abducting the young girl known as "Maria."
Authorities also continued to search for Maria's biological parents of Maria. She was found living with Christos Salis, 39, and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, in a Roma settlement near Farsala, a small town north of Athens.
DNA swabs taken from Maria showed that Salis and Dimopoulou were not her parents and did not match anyone in Interpol's global database of missing people, officials said Wednesday.
The international police agency also issued "Blue Notices" to all of the organization’s 190 member countries in a bid for more information about Salis and Dimopoulou.
Reuters cited police as saying that there is evidence the couple used false IDs to register Maria as their own, saying she was born at home.
But their lawyer Marietta Palavra told NBC News in an exclusive interview that the girl’s real mother is a Bulgarian Roma prostitute and that the couple had taken Maria in because she was unwanted.
The last time the couple saw Maria's mother was about a year ago when she stopped by to wave at her daughter, Palavra added.
The couple appeared in court on Monday to respond to charges of abduction and procuring false documents but were ordered to be held in custody until they face trial. A date has not been set.
Meanwhile, a DNA test has found that a blonde, blue-eyed girl taken from a Roma family by Irish police is their child.
Police had removed the youngster after a neighbor contacted authorities and reported that that the child did not look like her siblings.
But the parents produced both a birth certificate and a passport to support their claims.
In a statement, the girl’s parents said that they were “absolutely delighted” their daughter was coming home, according to the Irish Times.
“They do not accept that this was any proper or sufficient basis to take their daughter away from them,” they said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
First published October 24 2013, 3:24 AM