17 Mar 2012

Spanish baby-snatching investigators accuse 80-year-old nun

An 80-year-old nun has become the first person to be accused of baby snatching in the scandal over the trafficking of newborns in Spanish hospitals. Sister María Gómez has been formally named as a suspect in the investigation into one of more than 1,500 cases of suspected illegal trafficking of babies who were stolen, sold or given away by adoption over four decades until the 1980s.


Last year, as hundreds of alleged cases of baby snatching began to emerge, Torres's other two daughters set out to find their lost sister. In July a TV programme put the families in contact and paid for DNA tests. Campaigners are demanding a government inquiry into the scandal. They claim that networks of doctors, nurses and nuns who stole and sometimes sold babies were allowed to operate freely in many parts of Spain up until the early 1980s.

A campaign that started with an alleged 261 victims in January 2011 has since seen more than 1,500 complaints lodged at court houses around the country. It appears that what began as a system for removing babies from families deemed politically dangerous by the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco allegedly evolved into an illicit business that targeted single mothers and the poor. In one Madrid clinic where Gómez worked it is alleged that doctors kept a baby's corpse to show to mothers as proof that their child had died.

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