Maria mystery: 'That's our girl,' say Bulgarian family
THE woman who could be the mother of Maria saw the child's photo on television in Bulgaria and cried 'That's my daughter,' her son has said
Maria was discovered living in a Roma camp near the Greek town of Farsala last week, with a couple who DNA tests proved were not her parents. Authorities launched an international hunt to find her biological relatives.
When the images were shown on television they shocked through one Bulgarian household.
"My mother saw the pictures on television and said 'That's my daughter!'" said Isa Rusev, 15.
His mother, Sasha Ruseva, 35, has gone to police in the town of Gurkovo with her husband Atanas, 37, so that DNA tests could be carried out.
The mayor of Nikolaevo – the village where the Rusev family live – confirmed that the couple had gone to the authorities to confirm parentage.
Photographs of the family given to The Telegraph show that several of the children have the same distinctive white-blonde hair and light coloured eyes as Maria. Maria was found because she looked so unlike Christos Salis, 39, and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, who were looking after her. They have been charged with child abduction and remanded in custody.
The Greek couple have always insisted that Maria's mother gave her up voluntarily because she was unable to care for her.
This story appears to be supported by the account given by the eldest Rusev son, who said that his family regularly travelled backwards and forwards between Greece and Bulgaria.
Sasha Ruseva, with one of her children, pose for photographers in the town of Nikolaevo in Bulgaria
His mother, he said, was unable to afford to take all the family back to Bulgaria, and so Maria remained in Greece.
Whether she was sold or simply given away is unclear. One neighbour told local journalists that Mrs Ruseva said she had sold the child for 500 leva (£220).
Isa said he didn't know how many siblings he had – although the family is thought to have between eight and 10 children. Five of them are blonde closely resemble Maria.
"I cannot say if she is my sister," he said, speaking with difficulty to local journalists owing to his dialect and poor grasp of Bulgarian.
"I don't know how many sisters I have. But my mother cried when she saw the picture."
By Harriet Alexander, Telegraph.co.uk