Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 15:38 UK

Czech 'mystery impostor' cleared

By Rob Cameron
BBC News, Prague

Barbora Skrlova. File photo
Ms Skrlova faces serious charges of child abuse

A Czech woman charged with deceiving a children's home into thinking she was a 13-year-old girl has been found not guilty by a court in the city of Brno.

The court said Barbora Skrlova, who along with five others is believed to belong to a secretive cult, meant no ill-will towards the children's home.

But Ms Skrlova, aged 33, was immediately re-arrested to face more serious charges of child abuse.

Ms Skrlova went on the run after the child abuse case erupted.

She re-appeared months later in Norway, where she posed as a 13-year-old boy.

The child abuse case is one of the most bizarre and sinister in modern Czech history.

The Czech media has been haunted by the face - or rather faces - of Barbora Skrlova for over a year.

Victim or participant?

Initially, she appeared as a shy, 13-year-old girl called Anicka, with thick glasses and brown hair tied up in pigtails.

Then there was the shaved head and dark, sunken eyes of Adam, the 13-year-old Czech schoolboy who turned up in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

And finally a pale, nervous-looking woman wearing a woolly hat and clutching a teddy bear, being led away by police at Prague Airport.

It is alleged that Ms Skrlova, a woman posing as her adopted mother, and four other adults are all part of a secretive cult founded by her father.

The cult theory might explain why Ms Skrlova - who appears to be a deeply disturbed young woman - keeps changing her personality.

It could also explain why her so-called adopted mother kept her two young sons locked naked in a broom cupboard and subjected them to terrible abuse.

One of the boys found in the broom cupboard had been beaten, tortured and forced to eat his own vomit.

The court must determine whether Ms Skrlova was, as she maintains, a victim of abuse or a willing participant. The case is expected to begin in June.

Country profile: Czech Republic
15 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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