Spain 'stolen baby' finds mother 50 years on: police

MADRID - A Spanish woman was reunited with her mother nearly 50 years after being abducted as a newborn, one of numerous alleged cases of "stolen babies" from the Franco era, police said Saturday.

Francisco Franco's regime allowed children to be taken away at birth if the parents were left-wing opponents or not married. Victims' groups say the practice continued after his death in 1975.

In the latest such case to be resolved, a woman in the eastern city of Valencia who suspected she was a stolen baby lodged a judicial request to find her mother, national police said in a statement.

Examining hospital records, police identified a woman whom DNA tests revealed to be the biological mother. She had been told by the hospital where she gave birth in 1964 that her baby had died.

"She was very surprised and happy to hear the news," the police statement said.

"All these years the biological mother had lived believing that the baby, whose sex she had never even been told, had died in childbirth," it added.

Campaign groups for suspected victims of the practice such as SOS Bebes Robados and Anadir say hundreds of thousands of newborns were stolen under Franco.

They say some 1,500 court cases have been filed with prosecutors but that judges have shelved many cases on the grounds that the deeds were committed too long ago.

Saturday's statement said: "police are continuing investigations to locate those responsible for the abduction" in Valencia. It did not reveal the two women's names.

In another case, a lawyer said on Friday that judges had launched a fresh investigation into a nun accused of stealing newborns in the 1980s.

In April last year, Sister Maria Gomez Valbuena, 87, was the first person to go before a judge over the scandal. She was questioned over the kidnapping of a baby girl from a Madrid hospital three decades ago.

Now she is accused by another mother, Purificacion Betegon, of taking away her twins in 1981, said the plaintiff's lawyer, Alipio Barbero.

Last month, 47-year-old Quique Olivert from the southern town of Huelva told AFP he tracked down his birth parents with the help of SOS Bebes Robados after his adoptive parents died.