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Old 07-05-2018, 12:30 PM
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Default Canarian Weekly: Old-time doctor set for tough grilling in ‘stolen babies’ trial

A VETERAN doctor, now 85, will be the first person to stand trial in Spain’s decades-old “stolen babies” scandal.

Gynaecologist Dr Eduardo Vela will appear in a Madrid court over his alleged involvement in a criminal network, believed to have seen hundreds of thousands of babies taken from their mothers and sold, under the regime of dictator Francisco Franco.

The practice, which began after the Spanish Civil War, ended in 1939 and continued until after the leader’s 1975 death.

Children were stolen from families, considered to be Republican because they supported the government overthrown by Franco’s Nationalists after a military rebellion, and handed to others supporting the fascists.

Single or working-class mothers, or women with “degenerate” political views, were the typical victims.

The trafficking remained largely out of the public eye until two men, Antonio Barroso and Juan Luis Moreno, revealed in 2011 how a Zaragoza priest sold them to their respective fathers.

They formed an association to help victims, whom, they believe, number up to 300,000.

Vela, who worked at the Spanish capital’s San Ramon clinic, is accused of separating Ines Madrigal, 49, from her birth mother in 1969.

She was given to a 46-year-old woman, along with a forged birth certificate, and the doctor faces an 11-year jail term for illegal detention, falsifying official documents and certifying a non-existent birth.

Madrigal’s adopted parent told her the truth when she turned 18, and the railway employee has since become president of Murcia’s Stolen Babies Association (SOS

She does not expect the trial to serve up the answers for which she has spent three decades searching. But hopes it will trigger the reopening of thousands of closed cases.

“Obviously I don’t think that Eduardo Vela is going to tell me the truth,” said Madrigal. “He’s not going to tell me who my mother is, or about the circumstances in which I was taken from her.

“I’m not so naive as to believe that’s going to happen, but I’d love it if we could get the records of all the women who gave birth at the San Ramon clinic.”

She added: “This is a really important issue because, for 60 years, we were the baby supermarket for Europe and for South America… not just Spain.”

In 2013, Maria Gomez Valbuena, an 87-year-old nun who worked with Vela at the clinic, died, just before she was about to stand trial.
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