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Abduction suspect remanded for further two days

A 46-year-old man arrested on suspicions of being involved in the kidnapping of four-year-old Marie Eleni Grimsrud on April 27 has been remanded for a further two days.

Appearing in the Nicosia District Court on Sunday, police requested and were granted a two-day extension on his eight-day remand order tthat was issued on May 5 and was due to expire on Sunday.

The 46-year-old was arrested following witness testimony against him.

On Saturday, the 49-year-old Dutch woman arrested and subsequently released in connection with the kidnapping was remanded for three days by the Nicosia District Court after she was re-arrested on Friday night in light of new evidence.

The girl’s father, Norwegian national Leif Torkel Grimsrud, aged 49, is believed to be behind the abduction of little Marie-Eleni, which took place outside her day-care centre in Nicosia two weeks ago.

The girl’s mother, 43-year-old Greek Cypriot Lena Ioannou, reported the abduction on April 27, sparking an unprecedented operation in both north and south. There has been no trace of her since.

Grimsrud reportedly sent an email to his wife on Thursday, the second such communication, saying Marie-Eleni is doing well and he plans to travel back to Norway with the child.

His effort to reunite with his daughter follows an earlier abduction attempt which was foiled by police in February 2016.

While in Norway, according to sources, the mother obtained temporary custody from a Cyprus court in November 2015, just one day before taking the girl unbeknownst to the father. According to the father’s lawyer, Morten Engesbak, the parents lived in Norway where the child was born and even attended daycare, with the mother spending periods of time in Cyprus with the child.

“But the father never consented to changing the habitual residence for the child from Norway to Cyprus, and they had a common understanding that the child will grow up in Norway,” Engesbak told the Cyprus Weekly.

The lawyer for the mother, Laris Vrahimis, is disputing the father’s claims. The attorney told the Cyprus Weekly that Ioannou left Norway two weeks after the birth, making a few visits to Norway, adding that Grismrud never pursued any legal avenue in Cyprus to claim parental rights.

But Engesbak told the Cyprus Weekly that an application was filed in November 2015 and was relayed to Cyprus in January 2016.

According to the Hague Convention, the application must be dealt with inside six weeks.

“It has now been 16 months without any decision,” said Engesbak.

Grimsrud believes he has a legitimate custody case.

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