Cyprus: Keeping it in the family



By Charlie Charalambous

Two weeks ago, a little girl went missing after she was taken from her mother in broad daylight in front of a Nicosia nursery.

Apparently she is doing fine and with her Norwegian dad.

This is a relief because if the four-year-old was in any real danger, then I wouldn’t put money on our police saving her.

Marie appears to be at the centre of a bitter custody battle between her Norwegian father and Greek Cypriot mother – and like many cases of this kind, each parent has a story to tell.

Nevertheless, it is always the children that suffer, no matter who is right or wrong when it comes to deciding on custody.

Every lawyer will tell a different story to make the other side look bad, and when the going gets tough, the mum or dad can simply run off with the kid to another country.

MPs heard recently that Cyprus twiddles its thumbs when it comes to foreign fathers scampering off to the Middle East where the law can become a bit fuzzy.

Fathers can become desperate, especially when they are denied access to their children. But going to war with the mother is going to impact on the hapless kids.

When it comes to couples splitting up, inadvertently kids are used as ‘spoils of war’ or the ‘secret weapon’ in any domestic dispute.

Certainly there is a back story to the abduction of Marie-Eleni, but this doesn’t cloud the fact that a child has been unlawfully taken and living life on the run.

Well, most probably, not on the run, because I’m not sure the police are in hot pursuit.

Local cops have no real leads and most of their suspects have been released without charge.

If they do crack the case, it will definitely be by luck and not design as at the moment they are whistling in the dark.

Maybe they are not taking the case seriously enough, believing it to be a routine custody case, or they simply lack the expertise in such matters.

Whatever the reasons, it doesn’t look good that police have been unable to track down the dad and his daughter in their own backyard.

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