A hunt is on across Europe for a missing three-year-old girl at the centre of an international tug-of-love kidnapping case.
Jean-Michel Andre, a researcher in oceanography from the south of France, was attacked by two men who snatched his daughter Elise, and made their getaway with a woman, he believes to have been his estranged wife. Reports the kidnappers later boarded a Moscow-bound plane in Switzerland have been discounted. “Russian officials have checked them out,” the child’s shocked father told reporters. “Their passports were authentic. They had these people right in front of them. They had been told that this is probably the kidnappers and the girl they took yesterday, so you can imagine, they had looked very carefully. And they have let these people go, saying it is not who we are looking for. And I, for myself, did not recognise anyone either.” Elise was on her way home from school in the French city of Arles when the kidnappers struck. Her father was granted custody of the child by a French court in 2007 but her mother ran off with her to Russia. Her father then snatched her back last year. Legal battles over custody issues have been launched in both countries.