MADRID’S High Court today found 85-year-old retired doctor Eduardo Vela guilty of three crimes in Spain’s first “stolen baby” court case.
Vela was found the be the perpetrator of child abduction, faking a birth and falsifying birth records related to Ines Madrigal, who is believed to be a ‘stolen baby’.
Eduardo Vela will not be convicted despite the facts judges declared the case had “proved beyond a doubt” that Vela was guilty.
This is because the court ruled the offences passed the statute of limitations, the law which sets the maximum time a claimant has to initiate legal proceedings from the date of an alleged offence.
The court ruled that the statute of limitations came into effect when Ines Madrigal turned 28-years-old.
Ten years is the set time in place to report the most serious of the three crimes Eduardo Vela was accused of, abduction.
Ines Madrigal would have had to have made a claim between the time when she became of legal age, 18, and when she turned 28-years-old for Vela to be convicted.
However, some jurists argue that this 10-year time period should have started from the date Ms Madrigal realised she was a stolen baby.
Ines Madrigal filed her first complaint in 2012 and is now 49-years-old.
Eduardo Vela would have been staring down the barrel of an 11-year prison sentence and potentially being required to pay compensation to Ines Madrigal.
However, Ms Madrigal said in court: “I’m not interested in the money or for Vela to go to jail,”
“I want this to help get other closed cases reopened.”
The case relates to the recent unearthing of the common practice during Franco’s dictatorship, where a network of nuns and medical professionals stole babies from poor families and gave them to wealthy parents unable to conceive.
Doctors would then falsify birth certificates to establish a “bogus parentage”.
Around 1,500 cases of stolen babies have been reported in Spain, Ms. Madrigal’s case was the first to reach the courts of Spain.
She has stated regarding the case: “What I would like is for him to tell the truth, so that those mothers can tell their children, ‘I did not abandon you’ and for those children to know that they were not abandoned.”