Suspected kidnappers of French girl Moscow-bound: police

22nd March 2009, Comments 0 comments

The suspected kidnappers of a three-year-old French girl, apparently including her Russian mother, were Saturday bound on a plane for Moscow along with the child, a French police source said.

MARSEILLE - Two men and a woman matching the description of the suspected kidnappers of the girl boarded the plane in Switzerland, the source said, adding that they would be detained for questioning on their arrival in Moscow.

Another source close to the police inquiry said the four had already landed in the Russian capital.

Earlier police issued a Europe-wide alert for the girl after her French father said she was kidnapped on Friday and blamed his estranged Russian wife.

Jean-Michel Andre said two men hit him hard before taking his daughter, Elise, as she returned home from school in the city of Arles.

In an interview with AFP, Andre said he was "certain" a third person in the team -- a woman wearing a wig -- was his estranged wife.

Police found an abandoned escape car early Saturday, according to a source close to the investigation.

The kidnapping has mobilised an "exceptional" number of security forces and customs officers in an alert extended across Europe, prosecutor Antoine Paganelli said.

"The arrest warrant is international and the surveillance plan is on a French and Europe-wide level," Paganelli said.

While Elise's mother was a "serious suspect," investigators had yet to determine the kidnappers' identities, he added.

A French court gave Elise's father custody of the girl in 2007, but her mother nonetheless ran off with her to Russia a few months later. Legal battles to keep her have since been launched in both countries.

Her father said he managed to recuperate Elise from Russia in 2008 and vowed he was ready to do so again.

"Even if I need a fake passport, I'll go to Russia, I'll find her," he said.

AFP / Expatica

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