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Jon Coates, The Express, Sunday January 30,2011

HUNDREDS of parents in Spain who believe their babies were stolen and sold to wealthy couples in a scandal dating back to the Franco regime have demanded an official investigation.

They fear thousands of infants were taken from maternity wards in a lucrative adoption racket that started during the dictatorship and lasted until the Eighties.

The parents were told that their babies had died shortly after birth. Instead they were smuggled out of the hospitals by doctors, administrators and even nuns before being sold off to childless couples for large sums of money.

Many of the victims say they never saw the bodies of their infants and the hospitals took care of the burial arrangements.

The families of 261 babies who vanished staged a demonstration outside the office of Spain’s attorney general in Madrid and demanded a criminal investigation.

They blocked the street and wept openly as they pleaded for an inquiry into the fate of their lost children. The families submitted a petition to the attorney general together with evidence of illegal adoptions collected from former employees at maternity clinics and parents.

A campaign group claims the racket started during the regime of General Francisco Franco in the 1940s, when children were taken away from his political opponents.

Doctors, nurses, nuns and priests are all suspected of having lied to parents. Spanish journalists investigating the racket have discovered a baby’s corpse in a fridge at a Madrid clinic at the centre of the allegations. It is feared dead babies were kept to show parents to prove their own child had died.

Enrique Vila, a lawyer representing campaign group the National Association of Irregular Adoptions, said it had uncovered cases of illegal adoptions in Spain which have been confirmed by DNA tests.

He said: “We think it was an organised mafia.”

Since the scandal came to light, workers at an undertaker’s office in Malaga have admitted burying empty children’s coffins delivered from a nearby clinic.  

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“In all of us there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning . . . and the most disquieting loneliness." 

Alex Haley, Author of Roots 





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