Italian Police Find Hidden Belarus Girl


ROME - Italian police on Wednesday located a 10-year-old Belarussian orphan girl kept in hiding for nearly three weeks by an Italian couple who feared she would be abused if she returned to the orphanage in her home country.The case of the girl, identified in Italy as Maria to protect her identity and in Belarus as Vika, short for Viktoria, has gripped Italy and stirred a dispute between the two countries - with Minsk complaining formally about what it called her "deliberate abduction."

"The little girl has been found. I have just received an SMS," Italian Justice Minister Clemente Mastella told the parliament, without giving details.

Alessandro Giusto and Chiara Bornacin believe she has been sexually abused at the orphanage in Belarus. They sent Vika to a secret place with her foster "grandmothers" on Sept. 8.

Acting in defiance of a Genoa court order for the girl to be sent back, the couple then informed police, saying they would rather go to jail than return her to the orphanage in Belarus.