The real parents of mystery girl Maria have been identified as an impoverished Bulgarian couple who abandoned her in Greece, triggering a legal row over custody of the child.
Sasha Ruseva, 35, and her husband Atanas, 38, were identified by DNA testing 24 hours after police traced them to their hovel in a Roma settlement on the edge of the small Bulgarian town of Nilkolaevo.
Mrs Ruseva, a mother of nine other children, admitted she had left the girl in Greece several years ago because she could not afford to keep her, but insisted that she wanted her back. "She is my own flesh and blood," she said.
The couple with whom four-year-old Maria was living when police raided their encampment in the Greek town of Farsala last week said they now planned to seek legal custody.
The pair, Christos Salis, 39, and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, were arrested and charged with child abduction, despite claiming that they had been given Maria by a Bulgarian family.
Lawyers acting for the couple said they would apply for their immediate release and begin custody proceedings.
Kostas Giannopoulos, the director the charity caring for Maria, insisted the decision would be up to the Greek public prosecutor.
"It may be that it is decided that because of the circumstances she is better off in the care of an institution," he said.