A Madrid court has let off a former doctor over stealing newborn babies from their mothers and supplying them to infertile couples.
The court found gynaecologist Eduardo Vela, 85, had committed the crimes but could not legally be convicted because too much time had elapsed.
He was the first person to go on trial for illegal adoptions that took place during and after the fascist dictatorship of General Franco.
Thousands more cases are suspected.
After Franco’s triumph in Spain’s 1936-1939 civil war, many children were removed from families identified by the fascist regime as left-wing and given to families considered more deserving.
Inés Madrigal was abducted and illegally adopted as a baby in 1969. She took a case against Vela in April 2012.
Her adoptive mother, Inés Pérez, said before her death that Vela had given her the baby as “a gift”, because she and her husband could not have children. DNA testing has shown that Ms Madrigal is not related to her late parents.
However, because Ms Madrigal failed to take the case for 25 years after she first became an adult – in 1987 – it fell foul of the statute of limitations, which is 10 years. Read more