Monday, 22 October, 2018

Court: Doctor in Spain abducted newborn 49 years ago

Eduardo Vela was the first person prosecuted over the Eduardo Vela was the first person prosecuted over the"stolen babies scandal
Pablo Mccormick | 10 October, 2018, 16:20

It found former gynaecologist Eduardo Vela guilty of taking Ines Madrigal, now 49, away from her mother as a newborn in 1969.

The verdict is Spain's first in relation to the abduction of thousands of children during the country's civil war and the decades of General Francisco Franco's dictatorship that followed.

Vela, who was absent for the verdict, maintained that he is not guilty.

The babies were adopted by infertile couples, preferably close to the far-right regime, often with the help of the Catholic Church.

The phenomenon, therefore, would have affected many more families in Argentina, where some 500 newborns were taken from inmates during the military dictatorship (1976-1983) and entrusted in adoption to families who are supporting the regime.

Perpetrators wanted the children to be raised by affluent, conservative and devout Roman Catholic families.

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Vela, who was the director of a Madrid clinic considered to be at the epicentre of the scandal, denied the accusations. But the court chose to "absolve" the 85-year-old even if they considered him the "perpetrator of all the offences" of which he was accused.

Vila is accused of falsifying official documents, illegal adoption, unlawful detention and certifying a non-existent birth. However, the court cleared the 85-year-old of the charges because the statute of limitations had expired.

"I didn't know about any of that in 1987", She added. She took a case against Vela in April 2012.

But this was overruled by the court.

Ms Madrigal entered the court with her lawyer and came out an hour later with mixed feelings. "And yet the Madrid provincial court has always been opposed to the statute of limitations and had previously always found in our favor".

Even after Spain democratized following Franco's death in 1975, the practice continued as an illegal trafficking network until at least 1987.

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However, some jurists argue that this 10-year time period should have started from the date Ms Madrigal realised she was a stolen baby.

During the trial, Vela said he could not remember details about the operation of the clinic, which he ran for 20 years up to 1982.

An amnesty law, aimed at smoothing the transition to democracy, contributed to the cover-up, as courts and politicians refused to investigate baby-trafficking.

One of the witnesses of the trial, a French journalist, Emilie Helmbacher, which was completed in 2013 a report for the channel France 2 on the subject, had said that Dr. Vela, filmed in a hidden camera, he had hinted that he had entrusted the new-born Inès Perez and stated that it "had not paid".

The policeman said Vela was part of a "plot" to take babies from single mothers in shelters often run by religious orders.

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