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Nation/World

October 25, 2013

Bulgarian woman in DNA test in 'Maria' case

SOFIA, Bulgaria — A Roma woman in remote town in central Bulgaria has undergone DNA testing as authorities investigate if she is the mother of a suspected abduction victim in neighboring Greece known as “Maria” whose case has triggered a global search for her real parents.

Sasha Ruseva, 35, had been tested for a match and served with preliminary charges of child selling, but was not detained, Bulgarian authorities said yesterday.

Ruseva appeared on Bulgarian television after being questioned at a police station in the town of Nikolaevo, 175 miles east of the capital, Sofia, and admitted she once left a baby behind in Greece while working there, but was not sure if Maria was her daughter.

“I don’t know if it’s her. How would I know that? I didn’t take any money. I just didn’t have enough money to feed her,” Ruseva said speaking on TV, which showed pictures of her and her family outside her mud-floored village home outside the town.

Several of the children seen at the village were barefoot or looked poorly cared for.

“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 back,” Ruseva said.

Bulgarian Interior Ministry chief secretary Svetlozar Lazarov said Ruseva had told police she had seen televised pictures of a Greek Roma couple who had looked after Maria and recognized them as the same people with whom she left her child.

A blond-haired and fair-skinned girl aged 5 or 6, Maria, was discovered last week near Farsala in central Greece during a police raid on a Gypsy settlement. DNA tests on the Roma couple revealed they weren’t her parents and the two were charged with abduction and document fraud.

They insist they were looking after Maria with their own five children after an informally-arranged adoption.

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