Updated at: 10/24/2013 9:36 AM
By VESELIN TOSHKOV
(AP) SOFIA, Bulgaria - A Roma woman in Bulgaria said Thursday that police have questioned her about whether she is the mother of a girl found living with an unrelated couple in Greece, and that she is willing to do a DNA test and take the child back if she is proved to be hers.
The case of the girl, known as "Maria" and believed to be 5-6 years old, has gained international attention and drawn what some say is unwarranted and unfair attention to the Roma, or Gypsy, community in Europe, many of whose members live in poverty and have been linked to crime.
Greek authorities took custody of the girl after finding her while raiding a Roma camp for illegal weapons and drugs. The child stood out to police and others on the scene because she was blond and fair-skinned, and looked nothing like the couple who claimed to be her parents.
After a DNA test proved she wasn’t theirs, an international search was then launched to find the child’s real parents, while the couple she had been living with were arrested. The search apparently led to central Bulgaria, where police tracked down 38-year-old Sasha Ruseva in the town of Nikolaevo.
Speaking to Bulgarian TV, Ruseva said that she gave birth to a girl while working in Greece "several years ago," but that she had to leave the child because she didn’t have enough money to take her home. Ruseva has had eight children.
"I intended to go back and take my child home, but meanwhile I gave birth to two more kids so I was not able to go back," Ruseva said, insisting that she did not get paid for giving up the girl.
Police in Bulgaria declined to immediately comment on the case.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)