First trial in Spain 'stolen babies' scandal begins

An 85-year-old obstetrician is due in court in Spain today accused of abducting a newborn child in 1969.

The woman at the centre of the case, Ines Madrigal, believes that she is one of Spain's niños robados (stolen babies).

Obstetrician Eduardo Vela, who worked in Madrid, is the first person to stand trial over the 'stolen babies' scandal.

It is believed that a political practice of taking newborns from their birth mothers and placing them with families who supported the Franco regime began shortly after the end of the Spanish civil war and continued into the 1990s.

Victim groups have estimated that up to 300,000 babies were involved in the scandal.

Ms Madrigal learned of her origins when her adopted mother, Ines Perez, told her when she had turned 18.

According to Ms Perez, Vela called her to the maternity clinic where he worked on the day that Madrigal was born and 'gifted' her the baby girl for having looked after a boy previously.

Ms Perez denies having paid for the child and supported Ms Madrigal in her efforts to locate her birth mother. Ms Perez passed away two years ago at the age of 93.

Vela denies any involvement in abducting Ms Madrigal and is seeking a full acquittal. He admits that it is his signature that appears on Ms Madrigal's birth certificate.

Vela has claimed that he helped women in the past who wished to put their child up for adoption but denies ever pressuring anyone to do so.

If convicted of unlawful detention, falsifying official documents and certifying a non-existent birth, Vela faces an 11-year prison sentence.

Speaking to CNN, Ms Madrigal said: "I am not expecting that Eduardo Vela will tell me who my mother is, I know that is almost impossible.

But I do hope for a favorable sentence that can open the door to do something about the statute of limitations, which is blocking many complaints.

A number of allegations related to the stolen babies scandal have failed to reach court proceedings as the alleged crimes have passed the statute of limitations.

It is reported that 2,000 official cases of stolen children have been filed with Spanish prosecutors.

In 2012, Sister Maria Gomez, who worked with Vela in the maternity clinic, appeared in court as a suspect accused of taking an infant from her birth mother and putting her up for illegal adoption in 1982.

Sister Maria denied all allegations and refused to testify.

She dies just days before her trial officially opened.

Digital Desk

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