Discovery of "Maria" in Greek Gypsy camp gives Needham family hope
"My family and I are extremely delighted by the news of the 4-year-old girl who has been found in a gypsy Camp in Larissa.
We have always believed that Ben's abduction was gypsy-related, and have had a long ongoing inquiry in Larrisa. We hope that the investigation into Ben's disappearance will now be looked at again in Larrisa with the British and Greek police."
- Kerry Needham
Six reasons that give new hope for Ben
1. The discovery of snatched Maria is in the same area as the sighting of a blond boy at a gipsy camp in 1995.
Stratos Bakirtzis spotted a boy, aged around six, living with a family in Salonika, Greece. The child said he had been given to gipsies after being abandoned by his parents and his adoptive mother claimed to have bought the boy from another gipsy.
While there was no evidence to suggest it was Ben, it showed children were being sold in gipsy circles.
2. In 2011, a retired doctor said he had seen a blond toddler, who spoke a few words of English and said his name was Ben, with a gipsy woman who could not have children. Sotiris Papachristoforou reported the sighting in the town of Larissa in 1992, but police were not interested as there was no crime.
3. Another sighting in the Corinthia area in 1995 was revealed last year after Ben’s mother made an appeal on Greek TV.
4. Gipsy camps were never investigated at the time of Ben’s disappearance as police were “scared” to go into them. Ben’s sister Leighanna said Maria’s discovery showed authorities are now willing to go into gipsy settlements.
5. In 1996, a prisoner in a Larissa jail told police Ben was being held by a gipsy family. Andonis Bedzios visited their camp looking for his son when he noticed another boy. The family said they got him from Kos where Ben vanished.
6. Police always believed Ben was the victim of a gipsy kidnapping. Maria’s discovery gives weight to this theory.
Greek charity The Smile of the Child confirmed child trafficking is rife in the country. A spokesman said: “If you look behind the trafficking cases there are similarities. There are a lot of victims of trafficking, neglect and abuse.”
The time is NOW for the UK Government to finally realise that ALL missing children MATTER and to give the Needham family the SAME support and help as that given to the McCann family!
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