Fascism's shadow hung over Spain Monday as a former doctor was found guilty of stealing newborns for infertile couples—but still went unpunished, the BBC reports. A Madrid court ruled that gynecologist Eduardo Vela, 85, had taken newborn Ines Madrigal from her biological mother in 1969 and gave her to another woman who was wrongly certified as Madrigal's birth-mother. But judges said the 10-year statute of limitations for "unlawful detention" had expired, since Madrigal became an adult in 1987 and only brought the complaint in 2012, per the Guardian. "I didn’t know about any of that in 1987," says Madrigal. "But Vela’s lawyer brought up the statute of limitations again and again during the trial—right from the start."
And Madrigal isn't alone: Thousands of similar cases have been reported, since General Franco's fascist regime allowed doctors to take newborns from "left-wing" mothers and give them to pro-Franco families, per the AP. Priests and nuns made lists of parents seeking children while doctors allegedly lied to mothers about what became of their kids. Even post-Franco, Spaniards often kept quiet in a society that respected the Roman Catholic Church and embraced a so-called "pact of forgetting" during the 1970s transition to democracy. But with the European Parliament pressing Spain to take action, this drama appears far from over—except for Vela, who ducked a prison sentence that prosecutors wanted to last for 11 years. (Read more Spain stories.)