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3 Jul, 2009 11:09

Kidnapped girl to stay with her father – court

A French court has ruled a girl at the center of a bitter custody battle between her French and Russian parents should remain in France with her father. Her Russian mother may see the girl three times a month.

Belenkaya’s lawyer Grigory Renkurt, says he and his client are not satisfied with the court’s decision and are going to appeal. He insists that the parents should receive equal parental rights.

Meanwhile, Elise’s father has called the court’s decision “considered”, taking into account the “complexity of the situation” – though the court denied his request that Irina Belenkaya could see their daughter only in his presence, Ria Novosti news agency says.

Irina Belenkaya will be able to see her daughter “in special places where being with children is allowed.”

The custody fight over Elise André began in 2007, when Irina Belenkaya and Jean-Michel André failed to agree on splitting the parental access to their three-year-old daughter, who has dual Russian-French nationality.

A French court ruled that Elise was to stay with her father, but shortly afterwards, Irina Belenkaya took her daughter to Russia, where she obtained parental rights to her. In 2008, André came to Russia and took Elise back to France.

On March 20, 2009, Elise was again kidnapped from her father on their way home from kindergarten.

Later, on April 13, Belenkaya was detained in Hungary while attempting to cross the border to Ukraine with Elise, who has since been returned to her father.

At the end of May, Irina Belenkaya was released from custody by prosecutors in France.