Serbian Lawmakers Urge Investigation of Suspected Baby Thefts

Lawmakers on Thursday demanded a vigorous investigation into claims that hundreds of newborn babies may have been stolen from delivery clinics across Serbia.

For several years, parents throughout Serbia have expressed suspicion that their infants — who were said to have died shortly after birth — were in fact stolen as part of an organized crime scheme that included doctors and nurses at the clinics.

However, medical staff at the clinics have denied the allegations, and prosecutors have not brought charges in any of the cases.

CountryWatch: Serbia

Lawmaker Zivodarka Dacin, who heads a parliamentary committee that is probing the matter, suggested the cases were not handled properly in the past and should be investigated anew by a special prosecutor who deals with organized crime, such as human trafficking.

"This story is long and serious," Dacin told parliament.

She added that the parents were informed their children had died but often were prevented from seeing the babies and were provided no documents about them, including burial receipts.

Dacin said in many cases, no autopsies were performed on the infants to determine the cause of death, while in some cases the children's names later turned up on registration forms for school or obligatory vaccination, as if they were alive.

"It is our demand that each case be investigated and that each parent find out the truth," said Snezana Stojadinovic Plavsic, another committee member.

The case became known a couple of years ago after several parents told local media they suspected their children had not died but been stolen. Some of the parents even claimed they traced their children to other families that had adopted them.