Two men, both aged 44, believed to be involved in the abduction twelve days ago of four-year-old Marie Eleni Grimsrud were released on Monday after court rejected a police request to renew their remands.
Police are now concentrating on the 46-year-old man from Paphos who was arrested on Saturday and was remanded on Monday for eight days in connection with the same case. He is believed to be linked to a Hyundai car that was seen on CCTV near the school where the girl was snatched.
The two released men are the alleged coordinator of the abduction who is from Tseri, Nicosia, and who was arrested on April 27, the day of the abduction, and a taxi driver arrested three days later. He is believed to be the one who picked up the kidnapped child and an adult from her kindergarten in Dasoupolis.
Both men’s remands had been extended last week but court rejected a third extension.
The four-year-old was snatched outside her kindergarten, over a custody dispute. The girl’s mother Eleni Ioannou, 48, said that two hooded men snatched Marie Eleni outside her kindergarten in Dasoupolis and drove off, while a lawyer for the girl’s father, Norwegian national Torkel Grimsrud, 49, said that the father took the girl himself.
Police believe the first man they arrested organised the kidnapping for a fee from the girl’s father. The taxi driver has told police that he picked up a foreign man, aged about 50, and a little girl aged four or five, and transported them to the Tseri area where they got into a car with tinted windows and were taken to Peristerona. From there, it is believed they crossed to the north.
Court heard on Monday that through the footage of surveillance cameras near the school a dark-coloured Hyundai car is seen parking in a plot at around 8.45am from which a tall man exits. He returns soon after and parks it in the parking lot of a neighbouring apartment block.
Then, at 9.46am, a white Mercedes taxi – similar to that of the 44-year-old – arrives outside the apartment block from where a heavy built man exits holding a child in his arms and enters the taxi. Around half an hour later the taxi leaves with the passengers, and the Hyundai is seen leaving too.
The 46-year-old denies any involvement in the case and claimed the car belongs to an old friend of his and he had taken it to a repair shop in Limassol either on April 28 or 29. Police located the car on Saturday at the repair shop, where the business owner said that it had been there for about a week. Officers took evidence from the car for lab tests.
The investigating officer told court that the footage of other surveillance cameras show a Hyundai similar to that the 46-year-old was driving following the mother’s car when she was taking her to school for two days prior to the abduction.
Court also heard that the DNA of an unknown woman was detected on a hairpin located at the abduction scene, on an article of the child’s clothing the mother had given the police, and in the car of the alleged coordinator of the abduction.
Another suspect, a 49-year-old woman from the Netherlands, who is believed to be the one to have arranged the taxi transport, was arrested a week ago and has already been remanded in custody for eight days. Her remand expires on Wednesday.
Three more people were arrested but released as police found nothing incriminating against them as regards the case.