A man who discovered he was one of a generation of "stolen babies" in Spain taken from their mothers under the Franco regime said Wednesday he had tracked down his birth parents 47 years later.
Quique Olivert, 47, who runs a bar in Huelva on the southern coast of Spain, said that after his adoptive parents died he consulted his birth records and ended up identifying his biological mother plus a sister he never knew he had.
"My mother broke down when she saw me. She told me that she had never abandoned me, that they stole me from her arms and she never knew whether I was alive or dead," he told AFP.
"It was very emotional. She had not seen her son for 47 years."
Suspicious at finding irregularities in the records, Olivert had contacted SOS Bebes Robados, an organisation that campaigns for what it says are hundreds of thousands of people stolen as newborns under the dictator's reign.
The group helped him locate his sister and parents, living hundreds of miles away from him in Bilbao in the far north of Spain, where he was born, and DNA tests proved that he was their son.
Francisco Franco's regime allowed children to be taken from their parents on moral or ideological grounds -- for example if the parents were jailed left-wing opponents or were not married.
Olivert said that in his case the Catholic nuns in the centre where his mother gave birth in 1965 took him from her because she was not married to his father.
His parents are still together, his mother aged 70 and his father 75, and his sister is 42.
"I was a very happy child and well loved by my adoptive parents," said Olivert, who also sings in a pop band. "They always told me I was adopted, but I always thought it had been legal."
The campaign group complains that the courts have shelved hundreds of cases of alleged stolen babies. A court in Huelva ruled recently that the alleged acts took place too long ago to be prosecuted.
Olivert said he had met other mothers whose children had been stolen.
"They told me that I was a cause for hope," he said. "My case showed them the path to keep on fighting."