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Smile of the Child charity gets custody of little Maria, rules Greek court

By Nathalie Savaricas

A Greek court has ruled that a charity is to get legal custody of a five-year-old girl, Maria, who was taken from a Roma couple.

The Smile of the Child charity, which has been caring for Maria since she was seized by Greek authorities last October, is to look after the child until she is an adult.

Maria rose to prominence last year when authorities raided a Roma settlement in central Greece. A prosecutor noticed that the fair-haired girl bore no resemblance to her 'parents'.

The couple, arrested for alleged abduction, claimed Maria was given to them as a baby when her Bulgarian parents could no longer look after her.

Their story was later corroborated by Maria's biological mother, who was later traced to a Roma camp in Bulgaria.

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