Thursday, February 18, 2010

Newborn missing from maternity hospital found in Egaleo home, woman arrested

ANA-MPA/A newborn infant that went missing at dawn from the Elena maternity hospital in central Athens was found a few hours later in a woman's house in the western Athens suburb of Egaleo, and the woman was arrested.

The infant has already been returned with a police patrol car to the hospital and is with its mother. The baby's parents are Albanian nationals.

A new-born infant was abducted at dawn Thursday from the Elena maternity hospital in downtown Athens, and health minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakoupoulou immediately ordered an urgent sworn administrative inquiry (EDE) on the incident.

The infant, which was born on Wednesday, was sleeping in its bassinette beside its mother, when at around 5:00 a.m. the mother heard someone leaving the room and started screaming.

Police were immediately informed and turmoil erupted in the hospital. Police officers blocked the hospital exits and began a search of the premises to locate the missing baby girl.

The police juveniles protection squad is conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the incident.

The EDE will investigate the circumstances under which the infant went missing, and ministry secretary general N. Polyzos rushed to the hospital early in the morning and was briefed by the doctors, nursing staff and hospital administration.

"This is a distressing incident and will be immediately investigated in-depth. An urgent EDE has already been ordered by minister Xenoyiannakopoulou, and responsibilities will be attributed. We are strict on this. All the necessary measures will be taken so that such an incident is not repeated," Polyzos told reporters.

The hospital room from which the infant disappeared is a three-bed room, and had currently two mothers that had just given birth. The Elena, like most public maternity hospitals in Greece, allows the infants to be in the room with the mothers throughout the night in order to promote breast-feeding.

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