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18 May, 2009 15:19

Russian mother of kidnapped girl to go on trial in France

French officials have accused Irina Belenkaya of kidnapping her own child – three-year-old Liza, or Elise – from her French father Jean-Michel Andre.

“This was a predictable decision, because Irina herself showed eagerness to appear before the French court,” Anatoly Kucherena, lawyer and a member of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, who is mediating between the spouses in this conflict, said.

Kucherena added that there are three possible ways the situation may develop after her arrival in France. The court may set Belenkaya free; or set her free under judicial control and she would have to register at the police station; or take her into custody.

The lawyer expressed hope that father Jean-Michel Andre will collect his statement from the police because Irina has already signed a draft of a peace agreement. Now, Andre also has to put his signature under the document.

”He promised to do so, and I rely on him,” Kucherena said.

The French law enforcement officers will arrive in Hungary to collect Irina Belenkaya in the next ten days.

”The French lawyers are already waiting for her and they’ll try to strive for the mildest level of restriction for the woman,” Robert Fridman, Belenkaya’s lawyer, said.

Meanwhile, Jean-Michel Andre welcomed the decision of the Hungarian court.

“The court dismissed the appeal and it means that a long and fruitless period of transition is now completed,” he said.

The man stressed many times that it would be a lot easier to help Irina for the convenience of the child if she admits her guilt and faced French justice.

The story of little three-year-old Liza, or Elise, who was kidnapped to-and-fro by her own parents three times, aroused great public interest in Europe and Russia. The last time the girl was abducted by unknown attackers on March 20 in France.

Her father was beaten up. He said he recognized his ex-wife among the kidnappers.

Irina Belenkaya was arrested in Hungary together with her daughter on April 13 whilst trying to cross the border into Ukraine. Liza has since been returned to Jean-Michel Andre.