Victims of Spanish baby-theft racket demand probe
Victims of a baby-stealing policy approved by Spanish General Franciso Franco's dictatorship filed a formal demand Thursday for an investigation into more than 260 cases.
Anadir, an association fighting for the stolen children and their families, presented the demand at the Madrid attorney general's office with evidence including testimony from nurses who admitted taking part.
The demand was made on behalf of the victims and families of 261 snatched babies.
"There are many other affected families who will join the complaint," said Anadir lawyer Enrique Vila.
Children of jailed left-wing opponents were stolen from their mothers with state approval and often the blessing of the Roman Catholic Church to purge Spain of Marxist influence.
A 1940 decree allowed the state to take children into custody if their "moral education" was at risk.
Historians say many of the "lost children" were put in Catholic religous orders and became nuns or priests while others were illegally adopted by other families with changed identities.
Anadir estimates there could be as many as 300,000 cases during the 1939-75 dictatorship and up to the end of the 1980s.
Many of the same doctors, nurses and officials who carried out the Franco-era policy are accused of continuing it after his death as an illegal business that provided babies for cash to women unable to give birth.
Many new mothers were told their babies had died suddenly within hours of birth and the hospital had taken care of their burials when in fact they were given to another family, according to Anadir.
© 2011 AFP