The Bulgarian authorities have no rights on the fate of little Maria, who was found in the Gypsy camp in the town of Farsala near Larissa 20 days ago. This is the opinion expressed by the Greek lawyers engaged in the case before GRReporter in connection with the statements of head of the Bulgarian Agency for Child Protection Eva Zhecheva. Yesterday she announced that the Agency will take all steps to return little Maria to Bulgaria. "We are surprised by this statement because little Maria has Greek citizenship and only the Greek judicial authorities may decide what should happen to the child, namely whether she should be returned to her biological parents or to those who have taken care of her so far, whether she should be put into childcare or be given up for adoption," the Greek lawyers say.
They also state that, between Bulgaria and Greece, there had been other similar precedents with children of very sick parents, or of parents serving sentences in Greek prisons, and the Greek court had decided that they should remain in Greece, considering this to be the best option for the child. "There are many Bulgarian children in Greece at present too, who are being used by Bulgarians or are victims of Bulgarian traffickers," the lawyers point out. The child psychologists with whom we spoke also believe that an abrupt change in little Maria’s daily routine would have a negative impact on her psyche.
The prosecutor's decision of the specialized juvenile court should be announced in the coming days. Until then, little Maria is assigned to the care of the charity organization "The Smile of the Child".