1. ITV Report

Roma couple to face trial for mystery girl's abduction

The couple claim they were given "Maria" when she was a baby from her mother. Photo: Greek police handout

A couple will stand trial after being charged with abducting a mystery young blonde girl who was discovered by Greek police in a raid on a Roma camp.

The man and woman made a private court appearance in the city of Larissa to deny the charges of abduction and procuring false documents but were ordered to be held in custody.

ITV News' Lewis Vaughan Jones reports from Larissa:

The couple claim they were willingly given the girl, known as Maria, by her impoverished Bulgarian mother days after she gave birth.

"It was an adoption that was not exactly legal but took place with the mother's consent," Constantinos Katsavos, one of the lawyers representing the 39-year-old man, told reporters.

The couple both faced magistrates today in a courtroom that was guarded by a dozen officers. Credit: Greek police handout

Greek police today issued the first images of the couple with the girl, along with mugshots taken following their arrest.

Footage was also released of guns and drugs among possessions police claim was confiscated in last Thursday's raid on a Roma camp, a day before the discovery of "Maria" was made public.

The Greek charity taking care of the girl today said she is well but will remain in hospital until a medical examination is completed.

The Smile of a Child charity said the girl "will soon be in one of our homes". The charity also said a dental examination has revealed "Maria" is aged between five and six years old.

Weapons and bullets were apparently found during the raid at the Roma site along with a chainsaw and various electrical equipment. Credit: Greek police
Officers claim to have found bags of drugs during the raid last Thursday. Credit: Greek police

The case has raised questions about whether children are being stolen to order and whether the couple were part of a wider child trafficking ring.

So far more than 5,000 people, from Texas to Sweden, have phoned the Smile of a Child charity to offer clues or search for their missing children.

The leader of the local Roma community where "Maria" was found denied children have been bought and sold in his town.

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