Called into the camp to investigate possible criminal activities by the inhabitants of the camp, the public prosecutor accompanying the police noticed the very distinctive lack of resemblance between the young girl and her parents.
DNA tests have shown that there is no biological link between 'Maria' and her 'parents' and the little girl has been placed temporarily in the care of The Hamogelo tou Paidiou, an organisation which has done wonders for the protection of young children in Greece. The couple has been arrested and charged with abducting a minor.
Interpol has been drawn into the case with the Greek police supplying DNA details and all the information they have on the child, who is in good health according to Hamogelo tou Paidiou director and founder, Kostas Yiannopoulos, who also stated that she was confused and bewildered by the events of the last few days.
Couples who may have 'lost' a child at birth, or in any other way at around the same time might also be able to help in the investigations and return a bewildered and understandably confused little girl to her real parents.
We certainly hope so.
This is especially true in the UK, where the search for Madeleine McCann, the little girl kidnapped on holiday in Portugal, has been given fresh impetus with the analysis of her case on BBC's Crime Watch, and fresh hope for her desperate parents. Gerry and Kate McCann have said they have refreshed hopes for finding Madeleine after the abducted four-year-old girl was found in Greece.
The case of Ben Needham who was kidnapped at 21 months in 1991, while on holiday with his parents on the island of Kos, has also resurfaced, with the Daily Mail reporting that Ben, who would be 24 today, was reported as sighted in the same Roma camp.
Ben's mother Kerry has left no stone unturned trying to find Ben, even appearing on Angeliki Nikolouli's Greek TV show for locating missing persons, Fos sto Tounel, in her quest to find her son.
As she told ITV:
My family and I are extremely delighted at the news that a four-year-old girl has been found in a gypsy camp in Larissa, Greece. We have always believed that Ben's abduction was gypsy-related and have had a long ongoing inquiry in Larissa. We hope that the investigation into Ben's disappearance will now be looked at again.'
Ben's grandfather,Eddie Needham told ITV's Calendar News: 'We've always been told over the years it's impossible for gypsies to hide a European child, well this proves that it's not.'What I want now is for the British police to contact Larissa police and have those people questioned regarding Ben.'
As local Greek police chief Vasilis Halastis told Greek TV: "We're always searching for lost children. In this case we're searching for the opposite: the biological, natural parents. This is unprecedented."
Already, several couples whose characteristics appear to match and were told that their infants had 'died' at birth in 2009 yet the bodies mysteriously disappeared from the tiny coffins, have already come forward and supplied samples for DNA matching.
Police are requesting anyone with information about the girl to call
- the security police in Larisa at +30-2410-683171 and +30-2410-683184-5.
- Το Χαμόγελο του Παιδιού», Νάταλι Καρακιουλάφη, 210-3306140, 6936-523039
- the European Hotline for Missing Children at 106000, which operates in 22 EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the UK
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