Double murder prompts Greek investigation into illegal adoption ring

Yannis-Orestis Papadimitriou
·2 min read
File image of a Greek police officer on patrol. Greek authorities are investigating an illegal adoption ring linked to Albania - AFP/AFP
File image of a Greek police officer on patrol. Greek authorities are investigating an illegal adoption ring linked to Albania - AFP/AFP

A double homicide of sisters in Albania on New Year’s Eve has prompted a judicial investigation into an alleged illegal adoption ring in northern Greece.

It is the third illegal adoption ring that authorities in northern Greece have investigated in the last two years.

According to testimonies by relatives after the incident, the sisters were made by their alleged killer to give birth in hospitals in Thessaloniki to infants that were then illegally adopted by Greek couples.

In her statements in Albanian media, the victims’ sister has claimed that over the years, the two women gave birth to more than ten babies that were then sold to foster parents from inside the hospital.

Surviving relatives have also testified that a lawyer in Thessaloniki, who is now apparently dead, participated in the infant trafficking operation. An investigation has been launched by the district attorney of Thessaloniki.

A 2015 investigation by the Balkan Investigative Research Network found Greece was a "booming black market" for hundreds of babies sold by mainly Roma women from Bulgaria every year. Adoptive parents pay up to 40,000 euros per baby from mothers from Greece’s poorer neighbouring countries.

In 2019, authorities in Thessaloniki busted another infant trafficking ring of 66 members, involving personnel in private maternity wards, lawyers and doctors.

The ring had been bringing in women, mostly Roma, from Bulgaria, Albania and Georgia to give birth in Thessaloniki.

The infants were privately adopted with the assistance of the members of the ring who falsified documents so that foster parents would appear to be the children’s biological parents. The authorities estimated the group made more than 500,000 euros.

“When some things cannot be achieved in a transparent manner, they will happen in the dark” says Eleni Georgarou, a lawyer and head of the Foster Parents Network in Thessaloniki. “There is a whole industry for women to sell their babies, while intermediaries get rich”.

Illegal adoption rings are attributed to Greece’s problematic framework for adoptions, where official processes can last between three to five years. After repeated calls for decades by International organisations such as the United Nations, a new law voted in 2018 attempted to streamline the process, but its implementation remains incomplete