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Lawyer: father could be planning to take abducted girl to Norway

Marie Eleni and her father

The aim of the father assumed to have abducted his four-year-old daughter on Thursday could be to illegally take the child back to his country, Norway, in the hope he will not face any consequences for his actions, lawyer for the girl’s mother Larris Vrahimis said on Saturday.

The coordinated effort to locate the four-year-old, Marie Eleni Grimsrud, who was abducted on Thursday morning by two men outside her kindergarten in Dasoupoli have yielded no results so far. The abduction is believed to have been arranged by the girl’s father, Torkel Grimsrud, 49, as, following the snatch, an email was been sent from his account to Marie’s mother, Eleni Ioannou, informing her that their daughter was well and she was with him somewhere in Cyprus. He said he would be spending a week with her before contacting his lawyers to arrange custody.

Grimsrud, a Norwegian national, is wanted by police for the abduction of his daughter. Police said Grimsrud had travelled to the north on April 28 and has not left. All points of entry and exit, as well as the crossing points to the north, have been alerted to be on the lookout.

Vrahimis told the Cyprus News Agency on Saturday that he believes Grimsrud aims to take the child back to Norway believing that he will not face any consequences.

Norway, Vrahimis said, since it is not an EU member, is not obliged to extradite its citizens to other countries to stand trial. Kidnapping and transferring a minor to another country are two separate offences, Vrahimis said.

But both Norway and Cyprus are signatories of The Hague Convention, according to the Foreign Ministry’s head of Consular Affairs, Panicos Kyriakou, which provides for the protection of children in cases of abduction and procedures for their prompt return to the country of their habitual residence.

Kyriacou told the CNA that at the moment, Cyprus cannot request the application of the Convention for the return of the child, as she is not yet in Norway. If father and child had returned there, the Norwegian authorities would have known about it, he said.

He said that Cypriot authorities are in close cooperation with those of Norway.

This appears to be the second attempt by Grimsrud to snatch his daughter as in February 2016 police averted what they believed was a plan to kidnap the girl after they arrested three men from Norway who were crossing from the north. The three were detained after police received a tip-off as to their plan.

Late on Thursday, police arrested four men – three Cypriots and a Syrian – in connection with Thursday’s abduction and who were remanded in custody for three days after a black Range Rover SUV, similar to the one used by the abductors, was found at the home of the Syrian man and was transported to the police HQ where it was undergoing a forensics examination.

The court heard that the abduction had been organised by one of the suspects for a fee, who gave the job to the second suspect.

The kidnapping was executed by the other two, police said.

Ioannou and Grimsrud married in 2012 through a civil procedure and the girl was born in Norway in 2013. The couple never lived together permanently and they had joint custody of the child.

But there was a rift in 2015 when the dad decided to keep the girl in Norway. His requests were rejected by courts in the Scandinavian country because the girl’s permanent home was in Cyprus.

Vrahimis said the child had always lived in Cyprus after her birth, and that Marie Eleni spent time in Norway with her father who also paid frequent visits.

However, in October, 2015, during a brief visit, he announced to the mother that he was keeping the child in Norway and took away her passport.

Ioannou reported the case to police in Cyprus and sought a Cypriot court order for the child’s return. Marie Eleni returned to Cyprus and has been living with her mother since.

The father had initiated several legal proceedings in a bid to win custody but Norwegian courts rejected him, pointing out they had no jurisdiction, Vrahimis said.

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