Kidnapped girl home after Amazon ordeal

The nine-year-old girl who was held captive for seven months in the depths of the Amazon rainforest has been taken back to her home town in Catalonia, but not yet to her parents.

Kidnapped girl home after Amazon ordeal
Photo of the kidnapped girl after she was freed from her captor by Spanish and Bolivian police. Photo: YouTube

The child — a Moroccan national who moved to the Catalan city of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat with her mother and father in 2008 — was freed from her captor on March 8th.

Since then, she has been kept in a children’s shelter in Cochabamba, central Bolivia, while she underwent medical and psychological tests to determine the consequences of her ordeal.

Spanish and Bolivian authorities also wanted the young girl to testify to what had happened to her before leaving the Latin American country, Catalan daily El Periódico reported.

For seven months, her kidnapper forced her to work long hours in cocoa plantations, walk for days through dense rainforest and sleep on the ground in remote Amazon villages.

Grover Morales, the 35-year-old who had permission from her parents to take her to Bolivia on what was meant to be a short holiday, has a history of unresolved rape charges against him involving two sisters.

Civil Guard Police told Spain’s press on Monday they are yet to decide whether she should be handed over to her parents or to the city’s social services.

After his arrest, Morales told Bolivian TV he had struck a deal with the girl’s father by which she would be used as a ‘mule’ to take back a large amount of gold and jewellery purchased in Bolivia.

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

The court in L’Hospitalet handling the case is working with Bolivian authorities to decide whether Morales should be extradited to Spain for the hearing.

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Spain opposed to blocking EU-Mercosur trade pact: government

Spain does not support moves to block the EU's trade pact with South America's Mercosur grouping, which has been put in doubt over Brazil's failure to curb fires raging through the Amazon rainforest, the government in Madrid said Saturday.

Spain opposed to blocking EU-Mercosur trade pact: government
Mounted police patrol on the main beach (Grande Plage), near the Palace Hotel where G7 leaders are staying in Biarritz. Photo: AFP

Spain “does not share the position of blocking the deal,” an idea mooted by French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday and also backed by Irish leader Leo Varadkar.

“Spain has been at the forefront of the last effort to sign the EU-Mercosur agreement that will open huge opportunities for the two regional blocs,” Madrid said in an online message to media.