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The Roma couple keeping a four-year-old blonde girl named Maria on their camp is due to appear in court in Greece on charges of abducting the toddler.

Maria was found during a raid on a Roma camp in central Greece last week.

DNA tests showed that Maria is not related to the couple, who insist they were given her legitimately.

The little girl is being cared for in Athens by a charity, called The Smile of the Child, which has received more than 8,000 calls after an appeal for information about her identity.

The Roma couple – a woman aged 40 and a 39-year-old man – are due to appear before judges later on Monday to answer charges of abducting a minor and holding false papers.

The Roma community where the girl was found has rallied around the couple, saying they looked after her well.

Maria was found during a raid on a Roma camp in central Greece last week

Maria was found during a raid on a Roma camp in central Greece last week

The head of the Roma association in Farsala in central Greece says the pair treated her better than their biological children and that she loved them.

The brother of the man claiming to be Maria’s father repeated the defense that she had been given to them lawfully after her birth.

A lawyer representing the Roma couple, Kostas Katsavos, said they were carrying out a search for the girl’s mother.

Kostas Katsavos said the couple claim the woman had given Maria to them because she could not look after her own biological daughter.


“Our clients’ claim is that <<we never abducted this child we just adopted her>> in a way that was not legal, that we can confess,” said the lawyer.

But the couple are suspected by social workers of kidnapping the girl and sending her out to beg.

Police initially raided the Roma camp to search for drugs and weapons.

They noticed the lack of resemblance between the blonde-haired, green-eyed, pale-skinned little girl and her parents, and found further discrepancies when they investigated the family’s documents.

The couple had registered different numbers of children with different regional family registries.

The Greek authorities say the couple were in possession of false papers which suggested the woman had given birth to six children within a 10-month period.

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Two foreign nationals, one of them British, have been killed and more than 20 taken hostage in an attack by Islamist militants on a gas facility in eastern Algeria, state media report.

Several people were wounded when a bus was targeted as it carried workers from the facility, near In Amenas,

After being repelled, the militants travelled to the facility’s residential area, where they seized other workers.

Militants linked to al-Qaeda claim to have been behind the incident.

They initially said they were holding six people hostage. But an alleged spokesman later told two Mauritanian news websites they were holding 41 foreigners, including US, French, British and Japanese citizens.

Algeria’s state-run APS news agency, citing local officials, said “slightly more than 20” foreign nationals were being held. Algerian workers at the facility had been released in small groups, it added.

Norwegian public broadcaster NRK quoted the oil company Statoil as saying there had been 17 personnel in total, including 13 Norwegians, at the gas facility when it was taken over by the militants.

The In Amenas gas field is operated by the Algerian state oil company, Sonatrach, along with Statoil and the British oil company BP. It is about 1,300 km (800 miles) south-east of the capital, Algiers, and about 60 km west of the Libyan border.

The attack came after militants vowed to avenge France’s military intervention in Mali, where its forces have been battling Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) for the past week. Algeria has been allowing French aircraft to use its air space.

The Algerian interior ministry said a heavily-armed “terrorist group” using three vehicles had attacked the bus carrying workers from the In Amenas gas field at about 05:00.

The attack was “repelled by the escort units”, but one foreign national was killed and six people – two foreigners, two police and two security personnel – were wounded, a statement said.

“After their failed attempt, the terrorist group headed to the complex’s living quarters and took a number of workers with foreign nationalities hostage,” the ministry added.

“The forces of the People’s National Army and security services arrived at the scene and immediately took all necessary measures to make the area secure and seek a rapid resolution of the situation, which is being very closely followed by the national authorities.”

Later, the APS news agency cited local officials as saying two foreigners had been killed in the attack, one of them a British national. A local source earlier told the Reuters news agency a Frenchman had died.

Two foreign nationals, one of them British, have been killed and more than 20 taken hostage in an attack by Islamist militants on a gas facility in eastern Algeria

Two foreign nationals, one of them British, have been killed and more than 20 taken hostage in an attack by Islamist militants on a gas facility in eastern Algeria

The UK government confirmed that “several British nationals” had been involved in a “terrorist incident”.

Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore said one of its nationals had been abducted, adding that his government was “ready to use all the resources available to us to ensure that our citizen is released as soon as possible”.

A Japanese contractor at the In Amenas gas facility, JGC Corp, confirmed that Japanese staff had been seized, according to Japanese media.

The wife of a Norwegian gas worker was quoted as saying by the Bergens Tidende newspaper as saying: “I received a phone call from my husband this morning and he said he had been kidnapped.”

BP confirmed that there had been a “security incident”.

“The site was attacked and occupied by a group of unidentified armed people,” a statement said.

“Contact with the site is extremely difficult, but we understand that armed individuals are still occupying the In Amenas operations site.”

A man claiming to be a spokesman for the militants said al-Qaeda had carried out the attack.

He claimed that they had allowed Algerian workers to leave the gas facility and were only holding foreign nationals.

A list of demands had been sent to the Algerian authorities, and the hostages would be killed if troops attempted to rescue them, the spokesman added.

”Storming the gas complex would be easy for the Algerian military, but the outcome of such an operation would be disastrous,” he warned.

Earlier, a group known as the Khaled Abu al-Abbas Brigade told the AFP news agency that it had kidnapped the workers.

The Khaled Abu al-Abbas Brigade is believed to be led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar – also known as Abu al-Abbas – who was a senior commander of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb before late last year, when he set up his own armed group after apparently falling out with other leaders.

His new group is also known as the Signed-in Blood Battalion, a spokesman for whom told the Mauritanian Sahara Media website that it had “captured 41 Westerners, including seven Americans, two French citizens, two British citizens and two Japanese”.

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Kim Kardashian has seized the limelight again by posting pictures of what she would look like… as an alien.

Kim Kardashian, 31, took some time from her apparently not-so-busy schedule in Hawaii to post the images on her Twitter account today.

And she looked more than a little like one of the famous Greys of alien conspiracy folklore.

The mysterious creatures were the inspiration for the titular character in last year’s sci-fi comedy hit Paul.

In a posting that will be music to the ears of many, Kim Kardashian wrote: “I’m ready for an abduction,” with a series of accompanying shots.

Kim Kardashian has seized the limelight again by posting pictures of what she would look like as an alien

Kim Kardashian has seized the limelight again by posting pictures of what she would look like as an alien

She was not the only one receiving the image processing software treatment on her computer, however.

Kim Kardashian, who is currently going through a messy divorce with estranged husband Kris Humphries, also took the opportunity to rope in her latest beau Kanye West for a few stills.

In a cryptic message posted alongside photos of herself posing with the rapper, she wrote: “They’re calling me an alien a big headed astronaut…maybe that’s bc my boy Yeezy gets…”

Whatever she was blabbering about, it certainly gave her fans another insight into how she’s been spending her time in tropical paradise with Kanye West.

Kanye West, 35, who has been accompanied by Kim Kardashian as he records new material in Hawaii, earlier this week joined her on three separate trips to a local frozen yoghurt shop.

 

Former leaders during Argentina’s military rule Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone have been found guilty of overseeing the systematic theft of babies from political prisoners.

A court in Buenos Aires sentenced Jorge Videla to 50 years in prison and Reynaldo Bignone to 15 years.

They are already serving lengthy jail sentences for crimes committed under military rule, between 1976 and 1983.

At least 400 babies are thought to have been taken from their parents while they were held in detention centres.

The verdict is the culmination of a trial that began in February 2011.

In total, 11 people, most of them former military and police officials, were facing charges.

Nine, including Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, were convicted in the case over the theft of 34 babies. Two were found not guilty.

Jorge Videla, 86, received the maximum sentence as he was held criminally responsible for 20 of the thefts.

The court said Jorge Videla was guilty of the “systematic abduction, detention and hiding of minors under the age of 10”.

Jorge Videla listened to the verdict without showing any visible emotion. Both he and Reynaldo Bignone were already serving time in prison.

Former leaders during Argentina's military rule Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone have been found guilty of overseeing the systematic theft of babies from political prisoners

Former leaders during Argentina's military rule Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone have been found guilty of overseeing the systematic theft of babies from political prisoners

Jorge Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 for the torture and deaths of 31 dissidents during his rule.

Reynaldo Bignone was also given a life sentence in April 2011 for the torture and murder of political opponents.

Victims’ groups nevertheless welcomed the latest verdicts as a confirmation of the defendants’ guilt for what many consider as the most heinous crimes committed under military rule.

Relatives of the stolen babies, and those who were abducted themselves, cheered as the verdicts were read out.

One of the victims, Macarena Gelman, said the conviction was “historic”.

“To see the faces of those responsible is a sign that justice is making progress,” she told Efe news agency.

Macarena Gelman was raised by a police officer in Uruguay after her Argentine parents were abducted by the military in 1976.

Her mother was taken to a clandestine prison in Uruguay and disappeared. Her father’s body was later found in a cement-filled drum dumped in a river.

Macarena Gelman has since been re-united with her grandfather, Argentine poet Juan Gelman.

More than 100 children given for adoption to military or police couples have been reunited with their biological families.

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, an association that works to uncover the real identities of the stolen children, believes several hundred babies were abducted.

However, some of the children have said they would rather not know their origins, especially if the information implicates their adoptive parents in illegal acts.

Human rights groups say that during military rule, known as the “Dirty War”, some 30,000 people were killed or made to disappear by the armed forces in their campaign against opposition activists and left-wing guerrillas.

Baby theft convictions:

• Jorge Videla, ex-leader 1976-1981: 50 years

• Reynaldo Bignone, ex-leader 1982-1983: 15 years

• Antonio Vanek, ex-navy attache in Washington: 40 years

• Jorge Eduardo Acosta, in charge of ESMA detention centre: 30 years

• Santiago Riveros, in charge of a military hospital: 20 years

• Victor Gallo, army Captain: 15 years

• Juan Antonio Azic, intelligence officer at the ESMA detention centre: 14 years

• Jorge Magnacco, obstetrician at ESMA detention centre: 10 years

• Susana Ines Colombo, Victor Gallo’s ex-wife: 5 years

 

 

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Authorities named David Pouliot, a Vietnam veteran who worked for the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, as a “person of interest” in the disappearance of 10-year-old Holly Piirainen from Massachusetts in 1993.

Investigators stopped short of naming David Pouliot, who died in 2003, as a suspect.

Holly Piirainen was abducted during a family vacation in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, on August 5, 1993, and her remains were discovered two months later eight miles away in Brimfield.

No one has ever been charged with Holly Piirainen murder, but analysis of forensic evidence found at the scene has revealed a new suspect.

At a press conference today, Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni released the name of David Pouliot, a 49-year-old man from Springfield who died in 2003.

David Pouliot was a Vietnam War veteran, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard and worked for the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services in Westfield, Fox News reported.

The potential new suspect is the first new lead in the case for more than 10 years.

Holly Piirainen was abducted during a family vacation in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, on August 5, 1993, and her remains were discovered two months later eight miles away in Brimfield

Holly Piirainen was abducted during a family vacation in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, on August 5, 1993, and her remains were discovered two months later eight miles away in Brimfield

David Procopio, a spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, told The Boston Globe: “We hope the new evidence may spark someone’s memory, or someone’s conscience.

“Holly’s family has waited for justice for almost two decades.”

Holly Piirainen disappeared after she and her brother went to a neighbor’s house to look at a litter of puppies.

Rick Piirainen, her father, was planning to go to attend a news conference in Hampden Superior Court this morning along with sons Andrew and Zachary – who were eight and five at the time of her disappearance.

Investigators have speculated Holly Piirainen’s abduction and murder could be linked with that of Molly Bish, who disappeared on June 27, 2000, after she was dropped off at Comins Pond in Warren where she was a lifeguard.

The 16-year-old’s remains were found in 2003 in a wooded area near Comins Pond.