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Spanish doctor did abduct Ines Madrigal, court rules, but cannot be punished so long afterwards

A DOCTOR who stole a newborn baby nearly 50 years ago will escape punishment because the statute of limitations for the crime has expired, a Spanish court ruled today.

Eduardo Vela, 85, abducted Ines Madrigal on her birth in 1969, faking documents to imply she was the child of the couple who raised her.

The verdict that he did indeed abduct Ms Madrigal, now a railway worker, is the first in relation to the theft of tens of thousands of children from their real parents under the fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Mothers were often told a child had died at birth or shortly after.

But as she did not file her complaint until 2012, the court ruled Mr Vela could not be punished for the crime, committed while he was director of a Madrid clinic.

He denied the crime throughout, leading Ms Madrigal to say she is resigned to never knowing who her real mother was.

“Eduardo Vela will never tell me in what circumstances he took me from my mother’s arms,” she said.

From the 1940s doctors routinely stole the children of republican or socialist parents to be raised by more “respectable” couples closer to the regime.

Though political in origin, the practice became widespread and by the 1950s priests, nuns, doctors and nurses were regularly taking children from working-class households or who were born out of wedlock and giving or selling them to more powerful clients.

A mammoth illegal baby-trafficking network run by senior clinicians and figures in the Catholic Church existed by the time of the dictator’s death in 1975 and continued into the late 1980s.

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