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20° Nicosia,
16 October, 2019
 
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Custody issue raised in Marie abduction trial

Defendants plead not guilty as lawyers ask to scrutinize Cypriot court parental custody documents

Newsroom

Five defendants have pleaded not guilty to kidnapping charges in Marie’s abduction in 2017, while prosecution is facing mounting pressure to clarify whether or not the Norwegian father of the little girl had legal custody.

According to Cyprus News Agency, five people including three Greek Cypriots, a woman from Holland, and another person from a third country are all facing kidnapping and misdemeanor charges in connection with the alleged kidnapping of 4-year-old Marie-Eleni.

The case dates back to 2017, when Norwegian dad Leif Torkel Grimsrud orchestrated and executed a plan to reunite with his daughter. On 27 April 2017, he took his daughter Marie by the hand outside her kindergarten in Nicosia, in front of her Greek Cypriot mother, 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.

While the parental dispute has remained unresolved, five suspects are still facing charges for their alleged role in the abduction.

Knews was told by Norwegian sources last year that the father had been unaware of any custody decision in Cyprus

But the defence attorneys of some of the defendants told the court on Thursday that while prosecutors accuse their clients of helping “another suspect” in the abduction, that other person was not named in court documents.

It later emerged that the other person was Grimsrud, but state prosecutors did not file charges against him. Knews was told by Norwegian sources last year that the father had been unaware of any custody decision in Cyprus, following what his lawyers described as an initial abduction by the mother, who allegedly took her daughter from Norway while on a visit and travelled to Cyprus through Sweden.

The mother’s lawyer has maintained that his client had full custody of Marie, while it was not clear when the courts made that decision. Sources told Knews that 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.

According to Interpol’s website, Grimsrud is still listed as a “wanted person” by the Republic of Cyprus and remains on a stop list. But prosecutors said he was not expected to be charged in Cypriot courts.

Prosecutors have until October 30, the next hearing, to produce documents for the defence and share custody documents, while all defendants were released on conditions.

The little girl reunited with her mom in October 2017, after the mother and her lawyer travelled to Norway. 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.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Norway  |  Grimsrud  |  Marie  |  abduction  |  kidnapping  |  parental custody  |  dispute  |  child custody

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