“There are nearly a dozen disappearance cases from countries such as the US, Sweden, Poland and France that are being more closely investigated,” Panagiotis Pardalis, a spokesman from the Smile of the Child charity that has been assigned care of the girl, told AFP.
The girl, known as Maria, was found by police last week in a Roma camp near the town of Farsala in central Greece.
Initially thought to be four years old, but later confirmed from dental checks to be five or six, she was kept by a Roma couple who were placed in pre-trial detention on Monday for allegedly abducting her.
The couple, a 39-year-old man and his 40-year-old wife, deny the charge and claim that she was voluntarily handed over by her Bulgarian Roma mother who could not care for her.
The Greek Supreme Court has ordered that birth certificates delivered over the past six years be reviewed.
Prosecutors across the country are expected to look into certificates that could conceal “possible cases of human trafficking, abductions and illegal adoptions,” the court said.Smile of the Child has said Maria is at an unidentified Athens hospital for health tests and will soon be taken to one of the organisation’s care homes.
The girl’s discovery has struck a powerful chord with parents of missing children around the world, including those of Briton Madeleine McCann, who vanished in Portugal in May 2007 days before her fourth birthday.
The Smile of the Child has received more than 8,000 calls from around the world since this weekend, Pardalis said.
“Some are calls to give information, and we forward to the police whatever we feel can be helpful to the case. Other calls are from people who want to express sympathy,” he said.
“This case has highlighted the problem and the need to deal with it. There are (parents of missing children) who have been living in agony for years. We tend to forget these cases exist,” he said.
According to police, the Roma couple had registered 14 children in total, most of them th
Late on Monday, Athens mayor George Kaminis sacked the head of the city’s birth registries department, where Maria had been recorded in 2009.
“The case has exposed shortcomings at all levels,” Kaminis said, noting that post-dated child registrations had multiplied eight-fold from 2011.
“One can speculate that a great number of these cases were carried out so people could claim benefits from as many sources as possible,” Kaminis said.
Athens received its first international bailout in 2010 over its spiralling debt crisis and Greeks’ purchasing power plummeted, plunging thousands of families into poverty.
There are over 40 pending cases on the trading of minors and illegal adoptions in Greece, some of them implicating doctors and private clinics, according to justice ministry data made public on Monday.
Police were also investigating hospitals and childcare agencies for possible child trafficking, suspecting a ring operating between Greece and neighbouring Bulgaria.
“The police are investigating every possible angle,” a spokeswoman at the local Larissa police station told AFP.
In January 2011, police arrested more than a dozen people in the two countries, for the trafficking of newborn babies to Greece.
In that case it was Roma babies who were being trafficked. The ring arranged for pregnant Bulgarian women, primarily of Roma origin, to give birth in Greece with their babies then sold off in illegal adoption procedures.
Illegal adoption, in some cases involving trafficked children, has flourished in Greece, where birth rates are low and official adoption procedures gruelling.
Intermediaries can charge 15,000-20,000 euros ($20,000-27,000) per child, the state-run Athens News Agency said Monday, quoting police data.
Impoverished Roma families in Bulgaria are approached by traffickers who offer to pay 3,000 euros for a boy and 2,500 euros for a girl, the agency said.