Snatched French-Russian toddler, father arrive in France

15th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The girl, whose warring parents have both been accused of separate abductions, was snatched by her mother in the southern France last month, sparking an international search.

Paris -- A three-year-old French girl who was snatched by her Russian mother a month ago and carried across Europe as far as Hungary returned to France with her father on Tuesday, airport officials said.

The girl, Elise, whose warring parents have both been accused of separate abductions, was snatched by two men and a woman in the southern French city of Arles on March 20, sparking an international search.

Frenchman Jean-Michel Andre flew to Hungary to collect his daughter after her Russian mother Irina Belenkaya was arrested trying to cross the border into Ukraine on Monday.

Father and daughter flew into Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport early Tuesday, and were to continue on to southeastern Lyon, airport officials said.

Belenkaya, who is under investigation in France on charges of kidnapping and assault, remains in Hungarian police custody.

The father, who was beaten up during the abduction, maintains that Elise's mother was the woman involved.

Interpol issued a search notice for the little girl on March 22, but Russia Tuesday criticised as "hurried" a decision by Hungary to allow Andre to take his daughter back to France.

Andre himself snatched the girl from a Moscow street last year after the mother took her to Russia in defiance of a French court ruling, and the case has been complicated by a Russian court awarding Belenkaya custody rights.

"We have in this affair a complex legal clash as courts in both countries have given radically different decisions on the same question," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

"This is why we will ask France -- I think from today -- to have discussions with our experts," he added.

Lavrov said a criminal inquiry opened against the father for abducting the child had not been closed. He added that Paris had not informed Moscow of its accusations against Belenkaya.

After Interpol issued a search notice for Elise, the Russian authorities said they would inform the French if she turned up in Russia but warned that they would not arrest the mother.


0 Comments To This Article