CRIME

Parents of girl rescued from Bolivian jungle under investigation

Nine-year-old will not return home until circumstances of her trip with her kidnapper are cleared up

The Moroccan girl arrives back in Spain after her seven-month ordeal in the Bolivian jungle.
The Moroccan girl arrives back in Spain after her seven-month ordeal in the Bolivian jungle.

The parents of a nine-year-old girl who was kidnapped for seven months and rescued in the Bolivian jungle are being investigated by a judge for abandonment.

The child arrived in Barcelona on Monday after the Civil Guard found her in a shanty community in the Yunga de Totora rain forest in a coordinated operation with Bolivian law enforcement authorities.

In an interview with Bolivian reporters, alleged kidnapper Grover Morales, 27, said the girl’s parents had allowed him to take her to Bolivia in August in exchange for gold he was expected to bring back a week later. When he failed to return, the parents filed a complaint with the Spanish Civil Guard.

Sources briefed on the matter said the judge has decided to send the girl to a regional juvenile center until he is able to determine the circumstances of her trip and whether sending her back home poses a risk to her personal safety.

Until then, psychologists will be providing assistance to help her recover from a seven-month ordeal that included long walks through dense jungles and forced labor in coca plantations. The police have not yet ruled out sexual abuse, as the suspect had apparently decided to keep the girl and eventually marry her.

The parents, who are of Moroccan origin, live in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona province. Morales was their neighbor, and he had allegedly gained their trust by pretending to have converted to Islam.

The police are now investigating how the child left the country with a notarized authorization apparently signed by her parents, who are denying ever granting Morales permission to take their child. They also deny having reached any kind of financial agreement with the captor.

 

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