Four men have been arrested and remanded in police custody in connection with Thursday’s kidnapping of four-year-old Marie Eleni Grimsrud.
Little Marie was snatched by two or three men as her mother was getting her out of the car on Thursday morning to drop her off at her nursery in Nicosia. Witnesses reported seeing the men snatch the little girl from her mother and bundle her into a black Ranger Rover before fleeing scene.
The four men were remanded in police custody for three days by a Nicosia magistrate on Friday.
According to investigators, one of the suspects was the ringleader of the abduction adding that they believe they took the girl to the north after crossing a ceasefire line that is not monitored by police.
A police official also told the court that the girl’s estranged 49-year-old father, Leif Torkel Grimsrud, had emailed the girl’s mother to inform her that she was safe and well and that he would soon be taking her to Norway with him. An international arrest warrant has been issued against the Norwegian by police in Cyprus.
Police across Cyprus are still on high alert especially at airports, ports and crossing points.
“We can confirm that four men have been arrested and are currently being questioned,” a spokesperson of the Cyprus Police told in-Cyprus.com on Friday morning.
“The suspects are three Greek Cypriots aged 44, 47 and 39 while a 33-year-old Syrian national has also been detained. A Black Range – which was in the possession of the Syrian national – has also been seized to determine if it was indeed the car used in the abduction.”
“They are currently under investigation for charges relating to conspiracy to commit a crime, abducting a minor, abduction and common assault. The suspects’ homes and work places in and around Nicosia are also being searched.”
Both Grimsrud and Marie’s 48-year-old Greek Cypriot mother had been embroiled in a bitter custody battle. Last year, several men – including a well-known Norwegian mercenary – were arrested but later released without charge for allegedly planning to kidnap young Marie.
Police Spokesperson Andreas Angelides described the arrest of the four men on state radio as “significant” but claimed that they have so far denied any involvement in the abduction.
It is widely believed that he and Marie are currently in the north of Cyprus where Turkish Cypriot police have also joined the search to locate the little girl.
Media reports in Norway claim that Grimsrud – through his legal representative – has made an official request to Norway to allow him to return to the Scandinavian country with his daughter.
Citing the Hague Convention of 1961 Concerning the Powers of Authorities and the Law Applicable in Respect of the Protection of Infants, Grimsrud added that his daughter’s legal home is Norway. His request has been relayed by the Norwegian authorities to the authorities in the Republic of Cyprus.
“We have opened up a channel of communication with the Norwegian Foreign Ministry on this matter,” a Cyprus Foreign Ministry source confirmed to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) on Friday.
A lawyer representing Marie’s mother, Larris Vrahimis, told state radio on Friday that Marie “never lived in Norway” and would only visit Norway on holiday to see her father. He added that her father had “tried and failed” to win custody of Marie at the courts in Norway.
Police are calling on members of the public to contact their nearest police station or call the citizen’s hotline on 1460 or Nicosia CID directly on 22 802331.