Spanish court finds doctor 'accused of stealing babies' guilty but acquits him due to statute of limitations

A Madrid court has acquitted a former doctor of stealing newborn babies from their mothers and supplying them to infertile couples.

The court found gynaecologist Eduardo Vela, 85, had committed the crimes but charges were dropped because too much time had elapsed.

He is the first person to go on trial for illegal adoptions that took place
during and after the fascist dictatorship of General Franco.

Thousands more cases are suspected.

The Vela case focused on Inés Madrigal, allegedly abducted in 1969.

After Franco's triumph in Spain's 1936-1939 civil war, many children were removed from families identified by the fascist regime as Republicans and given to families considered more deserving.

The most serious abduction charge was brought against Vela by Ms Madrigal in April 2012. But because she failed to bring the case for 25 years after she first became an adult - in 1987 - the case fell foul of the statute of limitations, which is 10 years.

She was in court for the verdict, but Vela was absent.

Prosecutors had sought an 11-year jail term for Vela. The Spanish Supreme Court can still appeal against the verdict.

The Madrid provincial court found he had committed three crimes - abduction, fraud over pregnancy and forgery of documents.


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