DNA Test Confirm Bulgarian Roma Woman Is Mother of 'Maria'*
DNA tests have confirmed that the parents of the mystery girl known as "Maria" are the Bulgarian Roma couple who came forward earlier this week, police said Friday.
Sasha Ruseva spotted the blond, blue-eyed girl on television after she was removed from a Roma camp in Greece last week, allegedly telling her neighbors she was the "fool" who had given the girl up, her grandmother Zineb Kasimova told NBC News in an earlier interview.
The matriarch had said that she would be prepared to "take her home," if the tests proved conclusive, although the girl's future now still remains unclear.
"They left the kid because they have no money at all," said Kasimova, who has about 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. "When the mother saw the child on TV, she went to the neighbors and told them, 'I was a fool to leave the kid there'.'"
Speaking at her mud-floored dwelling, Kasimova added: "If she doesn't take her home, then I will go there and I will take her home because I'm her great-grandmother."
Ruseva told Bulgarian TV on Thursday that she had once left a baby behind in Greece after working there.
"I didn't take any money," Ruseva said. "I just didn't have enough money to feed her. I intended to go back and take my child home, but meanwhile I gave birth to two more kids, so I was not able to go."
Bulgarian police later questioned Ruseva and her 36-year-old husband Atanas Rusev, whose DNA was later shown to match with samples taken by the Greek police from the little girl.
"The prosecutors' office has opened a pre-trial investigation against [Sasha Ruseva] for agreeing to sell her child on an undisclosed date in 2009 in Greece," the regional prosecutor's office in the southern town of Kazanlak said in a statement. "The probe is opened following checks linked to the female child with the name Maria in Greece."
Ruseva and her husband both vanished after being interviewed by investigators, police told NBC News on Friday.
From their small shacks next to an unpaved road in Nikolaevo, neighbors told NBC News that the couple have nine children -- including four who are blond and fair-skinned like Maria.
She was found living with Christos Salis, 39, and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, last week in a Roma settlement near Farsala, Greece.
They have been charged with abduction and procuring false documents. Magistrates ordered that Salis and Dimopoulou be held in custody until they face trial.
Their lawyer Marietta Palavra that Maria's real mother is a Bulgarian Roma prostitute who was looking for a home for the unwanted baby among local Roma families in Greece.
Meanwhile, Greek police arrested a couple on Wednesday for buying a baby Roma girl from her mother for 4,000 euros (,500) in March because they could not have children of their own.
"The baby has been with them since then while they sought ways to legalize it," police said.
They were due to appear before a prosecutor on Friday.
- » Reuters: Bulgaria Struggling to Deal with Pension System's Strain on Economy
- » BBC: Only Qualified Musicians Allowed to Plovdiv's Main Street
- » Euronews: Why Is Bulgaria the EU's Most Unhappy Country?
- » Bulgaria and Romania Praised for Entrepreneurial Efforts in Wine Industry, The Guardian
- » BBC: Bulgaria PM Borisov Seeks to Halt Security Turmoil
- » ''Communism Didn’t Die in 1989: It Lives in People’s Minds,' Bulgarian Photographer for TIME Magazine