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• L’ESPRESSO INVESTIGATION
Minors were not adoptable. Because they were not orphans. But the Italian association had already pocketed the money from families. They have collaborated in the staging of a kidnapping by nonexistent “armed gangs”, Here is the continuation of our investigation on the case of Congolese children
BY FABRIZIO GATTI
July 20, 2016
He makes a joke, Marco Griffini, 69, president of Aibi of San Giuliano Milan. “One question haunts me of #bufalaespresso and does not let me sleep: but then the scooter was recovered?” He asks this at his Twitter page. He writes the question after reading about “L’Espresso”’s investigation into the adoption of children taken from their parents in Africa and other alleged irregularities involving his organization. It is the most powerful in Italy, with sponsors and access into Parliament.
But it is a cynical sarcasm of the president-master, founder of the Catholic institution authorized by the state, because the owner of the scooter, Raymond Tulinabo, guardian of the foster children destined for Aibi in eastern Congo, has been arrested with a false accusation by the local partner of the Milanese association, by the president of the Juvenile Court of Goma, Charles Wilfrid Sumaili. And once in prison, as retaliation he was repeatedly tortured.
The accusation of Tulinabo: bringing in safety outside the control of Aibi and the judge four children adopted by Italian families. A transfer decided in Rome in collaboration with the Congolese authorities for alleged serious wrongdoings of the association of Griffini in the adoption procedures: starting with the lies told to four Italian couples about the abduction of their children, waiting for them to leave for Italy. It reads as a horror film, this time seen through the eyes of Italian mothers and father and who expect their little ones. Months of tears and fear. The agonizing waiting for news. Until you discover that the story of the kidnapping of the four children is an act. Planned in Congo. And shared by the leaders of Aibi, despite the fact that they are aware as the papers showing that the truth is otherwise arrives in San Giuliano Milan at the end of March 2014. This also emerges from the report that was submitted to the Commission for international adoptions, the supervisory authority of the Prime Minister who is investigating: those children are not orphans, they have never been abducted. They have simply returned to their parents.
But this secret is built into the incredible plot that for two years protects the children thieves: the Congolese network, with the promiss to let them study, stolen the little from their poor families. This is written in an internal report by the same legal representative of Aibi in Goma, the lawyer Martin Musavuli: “The girls were taken for reasons of study.” In short, there’s nothing to laugh about. In those days of the end of April 2014 it would have been enough to be honest with the parents in Italy, which also have paid thousands of euro to Aibi for the adoption cases. And initiate a check, in synchrony with the Palazzo Chigi Control Commission. In short enough to admit that Mirindi, six years, assigned to a couple in the province of Brescia, Melanie, 10 years, to Cosenza, and young Aimé, 6 years old, in Rome and Nicole, same age, in Casorate Primo in Pavese, cannot be adopted, because, contrary to what stated in the judgments, their birth parents claimed them. The lawyer Musavuli and the social worker of Aibi, Oscar Tembo, in fact discover that the children, taken from an orphanage in Goma March 7, 2014, have returned home. That Melanie, Mirindi and Aimé were traced by family members. Melanie actually they saw in person. And she, for fear of being reported to the institute, is hides. Knowing that children are still safe would have been good for for the adoptive families, rather than await them in Italy.
Instead, listen to what happens. Those who collaborate with Aibi and are aware of the delicate question which mums and dads, oblivious to everything, recount to “L’Espresso”, are summoned only in the last ten days of April. That is, a month and a half after the disappearance of small the little ones from the orphanage. This is in the case of a couple from Rome contacted by telephone by Aibi. They call the father and ask him to show up with his wife the next day, April 24, at the office of the association in the capital. They explain that they will receive an urgent message about Aimé, their child. It will be given by videoconference by Valentina Griffini, the daughter of the president, responsible for operations abroad. The parents have never embraced Aimé. But it is only a physical place. Love has no boundaries. They saw her picture, they spoke on the phone.
Since August 15, 2013, the day of the adoption judgment in Congo, Aimé is their child in every respect. And on them all the duties of parental authority weighs. Including protection. The operator who calls the father is the Aibi employee who, in mid-March, received the first report from Goma lawyer Musavuli. Already in that report the Congolese representative of the association warns Griffini that the children are back in the family. He adds that the orphanage director, Bénédicte Masika, “was asked the question of why she never has anticipated this situation, and to avoid that Aibi pays the costs of maintenance of children who have parents. She said that at first she did not know the family relationship. When she learned, unfortunately, the adoption procedure was almost at the end. And it was therefore too late. ” The operator of Aibi, however, does not reveal to the father of Aimé the content of the report arrived by email from Goma. And in conversation with her, of course the father cares. He demands to know the reason of the summons. The woman said it was not possible to talk on the phone. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, you have to wait for the video conference. Panic. The father insists. She reassure him by saying that the reason is not a health problem.
In the afternoon of April 24 colleagues in the Milan office of Aibi see the same operator and Valentina Griffini sitting at her desk, in front of the camera and the screen connected to the Rome office. The father and mother of the child adopted in Congo sit next to an employee and the psychologist of Aibi. Their faces are pale. The voice of Valentina Griffini communicates without mince words you the children of the orphanage “SPD” of Goma were kidnapped. Among them is Aimé.
In fact the missing children are nine, you’re not six. The daughter of Marco Griffini received via email the same report that its legal representative in Goma sent to other operators. To be responsible for the activity abroad, she cannot have not read it. Even she, however, supports the fictional assault. They speak of an armed group. They said that the news was delayed because the local authorities have asked for a few weeks delay to start the investigation. The Aibi operators explain to the couple that it may have been an attack of some Ugandan guerrillas, since it is the first time in the Congo that children are being targeted. Before ending the connection the possibility of adopting a new child, instead of Aimé, was offered: thanks to the connections of Aibi with the judge of the Juvenile Court of Goma, the president arrested Raymond Tulinabo, who then was the Mtortured in prison.
From the Milanese headquarters of Griffini describes himself as a respectable and respected person. They are also asking the strictest confidence, because not all the couples involved have been informed yet. The Italian mother of Aimé bursts into inconsolably tears. The father watches fixed towards the camera lens. Until someone gets up in the Milan office and, with the connection, even turns off their expression of grief. A week Passes without any new decisive contact. In late April the couple informs the Foreign Ministry. Mom and dad of the little one solicit another meeting with Aibi. They would like to talk in person with Valentina Griffini. They fail. On the date of May 8 there is a session with a psychologist on how to deal with pain: it would have been enough to tell the truth and the psychological burden would be much less heavy. But not even the psychologist knows the background.
A few days later Valentina Griffini provides the latest news on the phone. She tells the story of six men. They arrived in front of the orphanage by car of which she does not know the license plate. They attacked the institution in the morning, in late March. Even the day of the assault is different from that of the disappearance of the young children. The armed group then took the six children and ran off with them on the same car. Yes, twelve people in one car. Griffini claims that thanks to good contacts with the police, the investigation will continue as long as the Italian parents want. On May 13, however, always in accordance with what the employees of Aibi said, in the Milan office breaks out trouble. Someone from Rome informs Valentina Griffini or her father that the couple has informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Aa request will come for clarification. And Valentina called the desperate parents of Aimé who are waiting for news. But she does not give them news about the child. She reproaches them. She argues that due to the reporting to the ministry, Aibi must come out with the institutions.
In particular, the Commission for international adoptions. And this could endanger the settlement of the case and all adoptions in Congo. Yet Aibi should immediately notify the supervisory authority of the Prime Minister. The adoptive parents of Aimé insist on seeing something written on the child’s kidnapping: police reports, or the association’s internal reports. They ask the Roman office operators. But the call from Milan headquarters Valentina Griffini takes time. She repeats that without reporting to the Foreign Ministry and then to the Commission for adoption, the whole procedure could have been managed more easily.
Another two weeks pass, and on June 17 the daughter of the president of Aibi, again by phone, reveals to the Italian father of Aimé that in Goma the investigation will probably be closed. Instead it is already stopped since a week: from 10 June 2014, as confirmed by the report of the local police. It’s still a surreal investigation. In the sense that it is formally opened on March 31, twenty-four days after the fact, when the orphanage director puts on record the history of an armed assault by unidentified men. And so he belies his previous complaint in which, on the day after the disappearance of children including four Italians, he accused four people, with names and surnames. The version invented on March 31 helps to resolve the dispute documented in the letters between the lawyer of Aibi, threatening to denounce the orphanage director for fraud, and she who intends to apply for a loan at the bank, in order to repay the Italian Association the costs incurred with the children who returned to the family.
The question finally arrives at the Milan office. It can be read it in an internal report already in mid-March, when the following note is written: “On the problems arising at the center of the SPD, have received a report from Eddy Martin with the feedback of Oscar. We think that organizing a meeting between Martin, Oscar and the director is important and necessary in order to bring clarity in the situation of the disappeared children and their true families of origin. ”
Eddy Zamperlin is the Italian representative of Aibi, sent for the occasion to Goma. Martin is the Musavuli lawyer. And Oscar Tembo, the social worker of Griffin’s Goma association. So on April 1 the comfortably staged kidnapping was undersigned by all the players at the end of a meeting in the local headquarters of Aibi: there are Musavuli the lawyer, the director, the president of the Juvenile Court and Zamperlin. He also, like my colleague Filomena Giovinazzo, has already received the email Musavuli reports that updated Aibi on the real story of the children. None of them, however, would ever tell the truth to Melanie’s parents, Mirindi and Nicole. And even the mom and dad of Aimé. When long after they learn from the Presidency of the Council officials that the children are doing well, they release the anguish into unstoppable tears. The little ones are safe. But, if they want to adopt another child, they have lost precious years. Those days of terror remain as frescoes of the internal communications of Aibi.
“We understand the difficulty in identifying two little sisters who fulfill the criteria and Melanie Amini”, is written in the report number 2014 of May 19, two years ago, almost a month after disclosure of the disappearance to the Italian couples: “the child that we propose is unfortunately too young. Considering the age it must be at least two sibling girls”. Siblings: the opposite of matching to parents. Amini, nine years, was assigned to a family of Cosenza with Melanie. In the adoption judgment they make them to be biological sisters, but they are not. Indeed Melanie returns to her mother. Amini remain in institutions. And is there forgotten. Finding children who resemble, is an activity of Aibi. You read it in another report with communications from headquarters: “How is the search for two sisters to replace the sisters Issa?”