February 5, 2016
Three Norwegian men – including a well-known former mercenary – are in police custody on suspicion of coming to Cyprus to abduct a toddler.
The saga revolves around the four-year-old daughter of a Cypriot woman from Strovolos who won a custody battle in Norway back in 2012 against her former partner and the Norwegian father of her child.
Police Spokesperson Andreas Angelides had told The Cyprus Weekly that the three suspects – one of whom is notorious former mercenary Espen Lee – were taken into custody earlier this week in Nicosia after reports that they had come to the island, via the north, to kidnap the child.
Lee – who once famously claimed to have killed over a hundred people while serving as a mercenary in Africa and the Middle East – told reporters on Thursday that he had arrived in Cyprus to collect the father’s car “and take it to England”.
He also described his arrest as “surreal” adding that he didn’t know why the Norwegian police had flagged the police in Cyprus.
“We had received information that the trio would be arriving in Cyprus to kidnap the child and we have sufficient evidence to back up those claims,” said Angelides.
Yesterday, a Nicosia magistrate remanded the trio in police custody for a further six days while they are under investigation for conspiracy to commit a crime and attempting to abduct a minor with the intention of transporting him/her out of the country without the consent of the parent.
Meanwhile, investigators in Cyprus have requested from their counterparts in Norway to question the child’s father.
Police investigators discovered maps on the suspects pinpointing the woman’s home, her parents’ home, her workplace and her daughter’s nursery.
Investigators on the island had been anticipating the arrival of the Norwegian suspects after being alerted by the police in Norway who had alerted Europol.
Meanwhile, police are on the lookout for a Cypriot man who is alleged to have led two of the suspects to the mother’s workplace, while a Turkish Cypriot is also wanted for questioning.
“The child’s mother had secured an injunction from Cyprus to have the child returned to her from the father – who is Norwegian, and from whom she had separated,” continued Angelides.
The arrests have made big news in Norway, while around a dozen journalists have arrived in Cyprus to cover the story.
Knowing the law and when to act
International Parental Child Abduction is a huge problem worldwide and the biggest losers of this selfish act are always the children.
To assist parents that do not hold sole custody is absurd and it makes the whole security industry look bad. ABP World Group never works for parents who do not have sole custody.
An Interpol warrant should be arranged for abductor. To send ex convicts and people the child doesn’t know in order to recover a child is a big no.
Doing such a thing would be too traumatic for a small child. Our personnel are ex-law enforcement and military with no criminal records and we always require that the custodial parents accompany us to take care of the child.
To recover an abducted child by force should always be the last solution.
The legal route by use of the Hague convention on international parental abduction and mediation is always the first option.
We often work closely with local authorities in order to find peaceful solutions.
* Martin Waage is Managing Director of ABP World Group and an expert in global security and child recovery.
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