By John Ensor •
Published: 03 Feb 2024 • 19:58
Image of National police vehicle.
In an incredible turn of events, a seven-year-old was safely returned to his father following an international parental abduction case that spanned from Spain to Belgium.
The ordeal began in October 2023, with the mother fleeing to Belgium with her seven-year-old boy, where she was later arrested for kidnapping, as sanctioned by a court in Ciudadela, Menorca.
The arrest, made in Belgium, was the result of collaborative efforts by the Spanish National Police’s UFAM unit and the activation of the ENFAST network.
Upon receiving a report of abduction from UFAM Ciudadela, the Central UFAM team initiated a search. The investigation led them to Madrid’s Tielmes, where the mother was believed to be hiding with the child before fleeing the country.
Clues including phone usage and bank transactions by the mother’s lawyer pointed to their possible location in Brussels, Belgium.
Working with the ENFAST network, Spanish police liaised with the Belgian Federal Police, and successfully located the fugitive and her son near Brussels. An information-seeking commission later enabled her capture on January 26.
Despite the arrest, she was released by Belgian authorities, after she claimed during a court hearing, that she had been the victim of gender violence, and that the father had sexually abused his son.
The Belgian authorities held urgent talks and a videoconference with their Spanish counterparts, extending the European Investigation Order and waiting to decide whether to proceed with the return of the child to his paternal parent.
After deliberation, the Belgian Juvenile Prosecutor decided on January 30 to return the boy to his father, adhering to the request from Spanish authorities.
The final challenge was the child’s undocumented status, as the mother had discarded his national identity document. The Spanish Attaché Office in Belgium issued a safe-conduct, which allowed the boy’s return to Spain where he was reunited with his father.
This resolution underscores the complexities of international child abduction cases and the importance of cooperation between countries in safeguarding children’s welfare.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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