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Civil Guard investigators (symbolic image)

Photo: Tobias Steinmaurer / photosteinmaurer.com / IMAGO

A couple in Spain is said to have sold their twelve-year-old daughter for a forced marriage.

The mother and stepfather were arrested in mid-February in Malagón in the province of Ciudad Real, around 150 kilometers south of Madrid, the state television broadcaster RTVE reported on Tuesday, citing the responsible police unit, the Guardia Civil.

A few days later, the child was found more than 200 kilometers from his parents' home in Baza, Andalusia, and brought to safety - before being forced into a marriage for 3,000 euros to a 17-year-old.

The mother denies the allegations and claims that the twelve-year-old wanted to "go to her boyfriend."

At the request of the dpa news agency, the police confirmed the parents' arrests.

A spokeswoman for the regional government said on Tuesday that the couple had three other children aged five, seven and eight, who were now being looked after by the social welfare office.

The twelve-year-old should be brought from Andalusia to Ciudad Real in the next few days.

The girl was subjected to the “most cruel form of domestic violence.”

»True Guardian Angel«

The Guardia Civil received the crucial clue about the girl's situation from a neighbor of the parents in Malagón, who "acted as a true guardian angel," RTVE reported.

"The little girl was my son's best friend (...) She was beaten by her mother and one day she asked me for help and told everything," the neighbor told the TV station.

The girl was afraid of her mother and was “always crying and shaking.”

The neighbor said she had gone to the police earlier to report the girl's alleged mistreatment.

And she notified the Guardia Civil again after the twelve-year-old disappeared.

“The police then acted very quickly,” said the neighbor.