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01 December, 2020
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Charges looming in Marie parental abduction

International child custody battle that shocked Cyprus in 2017 is back in the spotlight


Five people are expected to face charges in the 2017 abduction of Marie-Eleni, while reports out of Norway say the mother took her daughter without holding up her end of the bargain.

(Click here for an update to the story)

According to daily Politis, police are going after five people who are facing kidnapping and misdemeanor charges, including three Greek Cypriots, a woman from Holland, and another person from a third country. They are being accused of taking part in the abduction of 4-year-old Marie-Eleni, following a plan orchestrated and executed by her father in Norway, Leif Torkel Grimsrud.

Politis said the offences did not reach the level of felony but were filed as misdemeanors on the basis that the abduction was carried out by a legal guardian of the child.

A source told Knews that the mother and her daughter left one day before the meeting, but the circumstances of their abrupt departure were not clear

But according to sources in Norway, the mother was said to have been given full custody of the girl in Nicosia, something the father would later challenge but not through the local legal system. Sources told Knews Grimsrud was feeling helpless because the mother of his child had gained “full parental custody” in a family court in Nicosia without his knowledge or input. Court proceedings of the custody hearing were not made available.

“The father did not know anything about this,” the source told Knews.

Marie-Eleni was born in 2013 and had been living in Cyprus with her mother since 2015. In 2016, the father attempted but failed to reunite with his daughter, after Norwegian courts referred him to Cypriot justice telling his lawyers he would need to go through the local court system.

On 27 April 2017, the father came to Cyprus and took his daughter by the hand outside her kindergarten in Nicosia, setting in motion an unprecedented manhunt where he was accused of kidnapping the little girl. He eventually got away and travelled back to Norway with his daughter.

About half a year later, the mother and her lawyer travelled to Norway to reunite with her daughter. Both parties reportedly were to have a sit down to discuss future visitations between the dad and the girl, but the meeting never took place. A source told Knews that the mother and her daughter left one day before the meeting, but the circumstances of their abrupt departure were not clear.

“The father and his lawyers were shocked,” the source said.

In mid-October 2017, the mother’s lawyer took to social media to call on law enforcement officials to focus on prosecuting the perpetrators who collaborated with the father, whether they were in Cyprus or abroad.

“Marie has returned to her home. She should be left in peace to settle down and go on with her life,” said the lawyer, adding that “those who organized or collaborated with the father in the abduction, whether they are inside or outside Cyprus, should be punished.”

Grimsrud was still listed on the Interpol webpage on March 22, shown as wanted by Cyprus authorities for conspiracy to commit felony, conspiracy to commit misdemeanor, kidnapping from lawful guardianship, abduction of girls under sixteen, and assault.

The case has been in the spotlight both in Cyprus and Norway, with continous media coverage, while an unknown number of international child custody battles are still being fought or pending in the island's legal system.

Cyprus  |  abduction  |  Marie-Eleni  |  Grimsrud  |  child custody  |  parent  |  guardian  |  family court  |  Nicosia  |  Norway  |  kidnapping  |  misdemeanor

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