CONVICTED COUPLE LEAVES ROMANIA WITHOUT BABY
Author: Associated Press
BUCHAREST, Romania -- A British couple sentenced to prison for trying to smuggle a Romanian baby out of the country left for home yesterday four months after their arrest. ''We're very happy to be going home and only sorry we can't take the baby,'' Adrian Mooney, 42, said at Otopeni International Airport.
With tears in her eyes, Bernadette Mooney said the couple could no longer hope to adopt Monica Baiaram because "we have a criminal record."
Holding his legally adopted Romanian daughter, Grace, Mooney said he and his wife wanted to get home "and settle Grace down."
The Mooneys were arrested in July as they tried to smuggle the 5-month-old baby across the Romanian-Hungarian border. The child was placed in an orphanage and on Oct. 14, a court convicted the Mooneys of attempted illegal adoption and sentenced them to 28 months in prison.
The Mooneys, who legally adopted their 3-year-old daughter in Romania in 1991, say they paid $6,000 in various fees and did not know they were breaking the law. They said they put the baby in a box on the floor of their car to keep her from rolling off the back seat, not to hide her.
A Bucharest court overturned the prison sentences on Nov. 16, passed a suspended sentence and ordered the couple out of the country. A 10-day waiting period for the prosecution to appeal ended Monday.
A diplomatic wrangle between Romanian and British officials followed the Mooneys' conviction. President Ion Iliescu promised to pardon the couple on a visit to Britain this month.
Thousands of adoptive parents went to Romania after the December 1989 overthrow of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, when it was disclosed that more than 100,000 children were languishing in state institutions. Romania later tightened its adoption laws to clean up its image as a freewheeling baby market.
Bernadette and Adrian Mooney leave Romania yesterday with their daughter, Grace. The couple's legal woes ended when a Bucharest court suspended the prison sentence they received after conviction on a baby- smuggling charge.