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15 Apr, 2009 18:53

Mother of kidnapped girl to be extradited to France

A Hungarian court has ruled that the Russian citizen Irina Belenkaya, accused of kidnapping her daughter, is to be extradited to France in 40 days.

“For 40 days Irina will be staying in Hungary. During this time, France will have to provide all necessary documents,” press attaché of the Russian Embassy in Hungary Irina Zvonova was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

The extradition request has not been finalized yet and for the moment, the court extended Belenkaya’s arrest to May 25. If the request is not ready by then, the woman will be set free.

Belenkaya’s lawyer Robert Fridman said he hopes that, due to efforts of Russian diplomacy, France will cancel their decision. In the meantime he is collecting all necessary documentation.

Anatoly Kucherena, Russia’s Public Chamber member said that the main task of the Russian side now is not to allow Belenkaya’s extradition to France.

“I am going to Budapest to talk to Irina and to have a look at the court’s decision,” he said. “We will decide which documents we will need not to allow Irina’s extradition to France.”

During the trial, Belenkaya refused to plead guilty and declined the judge’s proposal of fast extradition. She said that she does not care what will happen with her but said that her child is now in danger.

"I'm pleased with the court's decision which lets me stay here in Hungary for around a month and I hope france will sort out what happened,"  Belenkaya said. "I think my ex husband is a manic – he had a pistol which he threatened me with. I don't think the French press or public knows about that.'"

Three-year-old Elise, or Liza, was kidnapped on March 20 from her French father Jean-Michel André on their way back from kindergarten. Her father was severely beaten by three men. André claimed Liza’s Russian mother Irina Belenkaya was involved in the kidnapping.

On April 13, Belenkaya was arrested in Hungary while attempting to cross the border to Ukraine with her daughter. The girl was returned to her French father on Monday.