Spain’s “Stolen Babies” Case Hearings Begin (Video)
On June 18, formal hearings started in the Spain’s “stolen babies” case with the testimony from a former hospital manager who gave evidence in scandal surrounding 300,000 stolen newborn babies sold over 40-year period. Most of the mothers were told their babies had been stillborn and few single mothers were coerced into leaving their babies in the hospital with threats of police action.
The mothers, often young and unmarried, were told they could not see the body of the infant or attend their burial. In reality, the babies were sold to childless couples whose devout Catholic beliefs and financial security meant that they were seen as more appropriate parents.
Illegal baby adoption scandal rocked Spain to its core last year in April when the allegations of the case surfaced. After a complaint from a mother who found her 29 year old daughter , Spanish police started an investigation and found hundreds of cases of baby trafficking. The children were trafficked by a secret network of doctors, nurses, priests and nuns in a widespread practice that began during General Franco’s dictatorship and continued until the early Nineties.
Sister Maria Gomez who was the first person subpoenaed in 2012, on charges of illegal imprisonment (it is called illegal imprisonment instead of kidnapping because under Spanish law kidnapping involves a ransom), refused to testify about the case. She has since passed away with all her secrets.
Despite the recent number of cases being investigated, Spanish authorities have largely avoided the issue in the past, taking years to confirm what people had been talking about for decades. To assist those searching, the Anadir, now the largest association was found by 1,100 people, who are looking for parents, children, and siblings. Internet groups have connected searchers across the country. Websites and Facebook pages abound with stories and pleas.
Courts are now looking into baby-trafficking cases in Valencia, the Basque Country, Madrid, Catalonia, Andalusia, and the Canary Islands.
According to Mike Elkins report in Daily Beast, Vila, who was adopted and suspects he might have been taken from his biological mother, said that he believes hospital staff perpetrated these thefts for money and the church acted as a distribution network. “The nuns and priests justified what they did by saying that the child was better off with the adoptive family, but they still took the money,” he said.
Journalist Katya Adler, who has investigated the scandal, reports in Daily Mail: “The situation is incredibly sad for thousands of people. There are men and women across Spain whose lives have been turned upside-down by discovering the people they thought were their parents actually bought them for cash. There are also many mothers who have maintained for years that their babies did not die – and were labeled “hysterical” – but are now discovering that their child has probably been alive and brought up by somebody else all this time.”
Adler asserts that experts believe the cases may account for up to 15 percent of the total adoptions that took place in Spain between 1960 and 1989.
Image Credit: CNN Video titled, Stolen babies scandal haunts Spain