Prodded by grieving parents, Spanish judges are investigating hundreds of charges that infants were abducted and sold for adoption over a 40-year period. What may have begun as political retaliation for leftist families during the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco appears to have mutated into a trafficking business in which doctors, nurses and even nuns colluded with criminal networks.
The cases, which could eventually run into the thousands, are jolting a country still shaken by the spoken and unspoken terrors of Spain’s 1936-39 Civil War and Franco’s rule. Last week, 78-year-old Concepción Rodrigo Romero joined the rapidly growing ranks of Spanish parents who are turning to the courts to uncover the fates of their babies.
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Spain’s judiciary was forced into action after Anadir, an association formed to represent people searching for missing children or parents, filed its first complaints in late January. Attorney General Cándido Conde-Pumpido announced on June 18 that 849 cases were being examined, adding that 162 already could be classified as criminal proceedings because of evidence pointing to abductions.
3 months ago