Italian Couple Apologizes to Belarus for Acting Wrongly in Orphan Case


A foster parent of Vika Moroz, a 10-year-old orphan girl who refused to return to her orphanage after a summer break she had spent with an Italian couple and was later ordered to go home by an Italian court, apologized to Belarus ambassador to Italy, Alexei Skripko, on Italian TV.

"I apologize to Belarus, we acted wrongly in a moment of desperation", said Maria Chiara Bonarcin Giusto, foster parent of Maria, during the TV programme 'Porta a Porta'.

"We are ready to cooperate but I ask you to solve this affair, even for the sake of other children, who have nothing to do with this". The foster parents think that Belarus "has won its diplomatic battle, now we ask you to win the battle for your children, allowing Maria to keep in touch with us".

In late September Italy ordered a 10-year-old orphan, who had been spending her holidays with Alessandro Giusto and his wife, Chiara Bornacin, to return home, to her orphanage near Minsk. The girl claimed she had been abused at home.

A court in Genoa ruled in late September that the child whose case has divided Italy and strained relations between the two countries was to return to Minsk. The Italian couple who hosted the girl (whom they call Maria though her real name is Viktoria) during the summer refused to return her, saying they believed she had been abused at the orphanage.

They hid the girl but police tracked her on September 29 to an Alpine monastery. The girl had been brought there by the two women whom she called "grannies" - the mothers of her foster parents.

The girl had spent summers with the Italian couple for the past four years. She was one of thousands of Belarusian children who have treatment and holidays abroad under a program for children suffering the long-term effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Belarusian authorities have denied the allegations of abuse in the orphanage, and had formally complained to Italian authorities about what they called a "deliberate abduction."