Mother and daughter testify in child-snatching inquiry

“If Sister María isn’t punished, she will be punished in another life”

Marisa Torres (r) with her daughter Pilar outside court.
Marisa Torres (r) with her daughter Pilar outside court. Paco Campos (EFE)

Marisa Torres and her 29-year-old daughter, Pilar, with whom she was reunited last year, left a Madrid courtroom in tears on Tuesday. They had just told a judge how a Catholic nun, Sister María Gómez Valbuena, now 80, allegedly stole Pilar soon after birth and sold her on to another family.

"She has done a lot of harm to a lot of families. If she isn't put in jail or punished, then she will be punished in another life," Pilar said.

The case filed against Sister María is the first inquiry to be officially opened by a Spanish judge over the alleged existence of a baby-snatching conspiracy, which may have lasted from as early as the 1940s up until the 1990s at public hospitals around the country. Dozens of complaints have been filed by parents, who claim that they were told their newborns died at birth, when in fact they were adopted by childless families.

In Pilar's case, it was her adopted father, Alejandro, who was instrumental in helping her to track down her biological mother. "It was very, very painful for me, having to retell this story," said Marisa, after testifying. "Now the judge knows the truth. Sister María deserves the most severe punishment."

Meanwhile, forensic analysts exhumed a grave in Castellón where the body of a newly born baby girl was said to have been buried in 1979. Her father has always claimed that his daughter was stolen, but human remains were found on the opening of the tomb. DNA tests will be carried out to determine whether it is indeed the man's daughter.

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