Europe rights judges stop 'abducted' boy's return to Israel
European rights judges ruled Tuesday that a seven-year-old boy taken illegally from Israel by his mother to Switzerland should not be returned to his father, contrary to a Swiss court decision.
"The Court was not convinced that it would be in the child's best interests for him to return to Israel," the judges said in a release by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
The case goes back to 2005, shortly after the boy's parents divorced.
Swiss national Isabelle Neulinger secretly took her son, Noam, out of Tel Aviv for fear that his father would take him to a Jewish Chabad-Lubavitch community, which she described as ultra-orthodox, radical and known for its zealous proselytising, the court statement said.
A long legal tug-of-war over the child began with the father, Shai Shuruk, appealing for the boy's return to Tel Aviv as the parents had joint guardianship.
A Swiss Federal Court in 2007 ordered the prompt return of the child to Israel.
His mother appealed to the European court, submitting a doctor's certificate which said "an abrupt return to Israel without his mother would constitute a significant trauma and a serious psychological disturbance for this child," the court statement said.
The judges acknowledged that Neulinger had taken the boy, then aged two, "wrongfully" out of Israel.
But they said the return of an abducted child had to be weighed against "a grave risk that the child's return would expose him to physical or psychological harm," the court said.
His mother "would sustain a disproportionate interference with her right to respect for her family life if she were forced to return to Israel," the judges ruled in their 16-1 Grand Chamber decision.
© 2010 AFP