Greek birth certificate probe in 'Maria' case - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Greek birth certificate probe in 'Maria' case

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In this police handout photo taken on Thursday , Oct. 17, 2013, Christos Salis, 39, right, and his companion Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, or Selini Sali — as the woman has two separate sets of identity papers. In this police handout photo taken on Thursday , Oct. 17, 2013, Christos Salis, 39, right, and his companion Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, or Selini Sali — as the woman has two separate sets of identity papers.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A top Greek prosecutor on Tuesday ordered an emergency nationwide investigation into birth certificates issued in the past six years after a girl was discovered living with alleged abductors at a gypsy camp.

Supreme Court prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani ordered the inquiry for birth certificates issued after Jan. 1, 2008, amid news media reports of benefit fraud by families declaring births in multiple regions. Experts have used the case to point out the severe weaknesses in the country's birth registration system.

A couple has been jailed on charges of abduction and document fraud in the case of the girl known only as "Maria." The girl, believed to be 5 or 6, was taken into protective care last week after DNA tests established the couple was not her biological parents.

The case has triggered international interest in missing children, with the girl's DNA entered into a database held by the international law enforcement agency Interpol to check for matches.

On Monday, the mayor of Athens ordered the suspension of three officials in charge of record-keeping. New parents have three months to declare their newborns. Investigators in Athens found a large number of babies had been recently declared at or near the end of that deadline, sending up a red flag because they suspected some were multiple declarations to claim benefits.

The two suspects, aged 39 and 40, deny the abduction allegations, claiming they received the child from a destitute woman to bring up as their own.

Authorities allege the female suspect claimed to have given birth to six children in less than 10 months, while 10 of the 14 children the couple had registered as their own are unaccounted for.

Police say the two suspects received about 2,500 euros ($3,420) a month in subsidies from three different cities.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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