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Hundreds of Spanish babies were stolen from their parents by a secret network of doctors and nurses and sold for adoption, according to a petition filed in Madrid. The families of 261 babies who disappeared in Spanish hospitals over five decades called on the attorney general to open an investigation into the scandal, after presenting evidence from former employees at maternity clinics and parents who admitted illegally adopting babies. What started as a system for taking children away from families deemed to be politically dangerous to the regime of General Francisco Franco became an illicit business that continued at least until the 1980s... Doctors, nurses, nuns and priests are all suspected of lying to mothers who were told their children had died during, or straight after, birth. Journalists investigating a clinic in Madrid at the centre of the allegations found a baby's corpse in a fridge, leading to suggestions that bodies were kept to show parents to prove their own child had died.
An 80-year-old nun has become the first person to be accused of baby snatching in the scandal over the trafficking of newborns in Spanish hospitals. Although the nun's name appears in many of the complaints made by those seeking lost children, the accusation centres on a single case involving María Luisa Torres and her 29-year-old daughter, Pilar. They were reunited eight months ago after families affected by the trafficking began campaigning for the truth. The nun, who worked with two Madrid clinics in the 1970s and 80s, had placed ads in local newspapers offering to help single mothers. Torres said Gómez promised to put the baby in an orphanage where she could visit her until she was able to look after the child herself. But after the birth Gómez told her the baby had been given to another family. When Torres complained, the nun allegedly threatened to denounce her for the crime of infidelity and have her other daughter, born to her first husband, taken away. "Her words were: 'I'm taking this one away and I can take the other one too. And then you'll go to jail,'" Torres told Antena 3 television. Pilar's adopted parents took her to see Gómez when she began to ask after her birth mother. The nun allegedly told them Pilar's mother had been a prostitute. Last year, as hundreds of alleged cases of baby snatching began to emerge, Torres's other two daughters set out to find their lost sister. In July a TV programme put the families in contact and paid for DNA tests. In at least three cases that remain open, graves have been opened and found to be empty. A campaign that started with an alleged 261 victims in January 2011 has since seen more than 1,500 complaints lodged at court houses around the country.
"Her words were: 'I'm taking this one away and I can take the other one too. And then you'll go to jail,'" Torres told Antena 3 television.