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Seven arrests in Greece over baby trafficking

  • Coast guard officers tie a boat to their vessel near the coast of Lefkada island in the Ionian Sea, western Greece, Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Dimitris Dimitriou)

ATHENS: Police in central Greece on Saturday said they had arrested seven people including five Bulgarians for attempted baby trafficking.

"A police operation prevented the illegal adoption of a ten-day-old baby for the sum of 5,000 euros ($6,800)," police in the central city of Larissa said in a statement.

The authorities said a 62-year-old Greek had attempted to arrange an illegal adoption with the aid of a lawyer in the central city of Volos.

A pregnant woman was found in neighbouring Bulgaria and persuaded to give birth in a Volos hospital on January 5, the police said.

After arresting the lawyer and his Bulgarian associates, police said they had found documents on four other illegal adoptions carried out last year.

The case recalled another that made headlines in October, when a blonde girl named Maria was found living in a Roma camp near Larissa with a couple who did not resemble her.

After a media storm, Maria's real parents -- other Roma who had given her up -- were tracked down in Bulgaria.

Illegal adoption, in some cases involving trafficked children, has flourished in Greece, where birth rates are low and official adoption procedures gruelling.

There are dozens of pending cases on the trading of minors and illegal adoptions in Greece, some of them implicating doctors and private clinics, according to the justice ministry.

 
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