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'I had parents' blessing': Rainforest kidnapper

Alex Dunham · 13 Mar 2014, 17:57

Published: 13 Mar 2014 17:57 GMT+01:00

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As the world awaits to hear the truth behind this unbelievable story — much of which will depend on when the Bolivian judge handling the case lifts the gagging order — new information is appearing in both Spanish and South American media.

First there’s the face behind the kidnapping: 35-year-old Bolivian Grover Morales.

The short, emaciated man with long hair down to his waist spoke calmly to local TV journalists when being transferred from his cell.

"I had her parents' trust," Morales claims.

"Her mother told me Islamic law allows for this. She said, 'If you want to marry my daughter please do, my friend.'"

"The father told me ‘If you’re going to marry her, what do you need?"

Morales told reporters how he and the girl’s family obtained power of attorney from a Barcelona court, allowing the pair to leave Spain for Bolivia.

Police inspector Jordi Domènech, who headed the missing person investigation from Spain's Catalonia region, has since provided proof that the girl’s parents had indeed legally allowed her to travel with Morales.

The alleged kidnapper also told Bolivian journalists he had agreed with the parents he would bring back gold for them, which they could later sell off at a higher price.

The girl was to be used as a mule who would carry jewels so as not to raise suspicions at customs.

Morales didn't mention however that the trip was supposed to last seven days and not seven months.

Although it was initially reported that the girl’s parents were unable to speak to her once she was in Bolivia, it has since emerged they held brief phone conversations at the start of her time in the Latin American country.

When they lost complete contact, the mother and father — Moroccan citizens living in Spain since 2008 — decided to reach out to Catalonia’s Mossos d’Esquadra police.

Eventually, four Spanish Civil Guard police officers were sent over to Bolivia's Department of Cochabamba, where for over a month they were hot on the heels of the kidnapper — a Muslim convert—and his victim.

Morales fled deep into the rainforest region of Yunga de Totora, an area of dense jungle impossible to penetrate without a machete.

"She was desperate to leave the jungle," Civil Guard forces told a press conference of the young girl’s ordeal.

Morales is reported to have made her walk for days and forced her to work on the local cocoa plantations.

When syndicate leaders grew tired of the Spanish police presence in the region, they too hunted the pair down.

In the early hours of March 8th, they found the young girl lying on the ground in a small hut deep in the jungle.

"She started crying the moment she heard a language she recognized (Bolivians in the region speak Quechua rather than Spanish)," Spanish Civil Guard captain Álvaro Moreno told the media.

Story continues below…

Morales, who now faces charges of human trafficking and sexual abuse, had already been charged for raping his two sisters.

But according to Spanish newspaper El País, the women were convinced by their mother to drop the charges.

Morales' mother is also reported to have aided her son when he first arrived in Bolivia with the girl.

Spanish police are now looking in detail at the involvement of the girl’s parents to determine whether they were looking to profit from her departure.

Meanwhile, Morales continues to claim he caused no harm to the nine-year-old he passed off as his niece but treated as his wife.

"I haven’t stolen, killed or kidnapped anyone," he argues.

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Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

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