Roma couple Hristos Salis, 39, and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, have been formally charged with abudcting the blonde-haired blue-eyed girl found with them last week. The couple continue to claim that the girl's biological mother gave the little girl, Maria, to them as a baby because she could not look after her. That was their defense in a Greek magistrate's court Monday.
Sky News reports: "One of their lawyers, Constantinos Katsavos, told reporters outside court: "It was an adoption that was not exactly legal but took place with the mother's consent.""
Police searching a Roma camp for drugs and weapons found Maria last Wednesday, living in at the camp, near the Greek town of Farsala. Tests were carried out as the accompanying prosecutor thought the girl's appearance did not match the family. They are dark haired and dark skinned.
The results of the DNA tests showed that there was no biological link between Maria and her "Roma parents".
The couple said Maria is aged four but medics now believe she is one or two years older than that. Maria is in hospital for further tests and examinations currently but is said to be fine. When she is discharged it will be to a Greek home of the Greek charity Smile Of The Child, at least for the time being. Greek media have dubbed Maria the "blonde angel" and the charity has been swamped by calls from the US, Scandinavia, Australia and South Africa.
Police are piecing together Maria's life and history. The Roma couple claim her mother was from Bulgaria. According to SkyNews:
Babis Dimitriou, chairman of the local Roma community, told The Daily Telegraph: "There was a Bulgarian husband and wife who were working around Greece in temporary jobs, who used to stay here sometimes.
Roma groups are struggling to survive the economic crisis in Greece. They are now fearful that they will be stigmatised as child-snatchers and pushed further outside of society. This would damage their ability to trade goods.
Opinion: Maria gives faint hope to parents such as the McCanns trying to find their daughter Madeline who has been missing since 2007. However British police say "there is no link between her case and that of missing boy Ben Needham, who was 21 months old when he vanished on the Greek island of Kos in 1991". Maria was found where investigators had searched for Ben.
Parents of missing children will however look at cases such as this one and Cleveland Ohio kidnapper Ariel Castro, who kept three girls hostage for more than a decade, as proof that child snatching is sadly a fact of life and that their missing children may still be alive.