UK

Talia Belaid abduction: ‘No more courts can do’

Maher Belaid and Talia Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Maher Belaid was jailed in 2014 for abducting his daughter Talia and taking her to Libya

The mother of a girl who was abducted and taken to Libya has “exhausted all options” in the courts to get her returned, a judge said.

Talia Belaid was taken by her father in 2012, when she was three months old.

Her father, Maher Belaid, was jailed for four years in 2014 when he returned to the UK without Talia, who is still in Libya with her grandmother.

The girl’s mother, Gosia Szymanowicz, of Cardiff, was told there was nothing more the High Court could do.

In London on Thursday, Mr Justice Holman advised her to write to her MP to drive the case up the agenda of Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, or visit Libya herself to retrieve her.

Thursday’s hearing was part of Ms Szymanowicz’s attempts to explore avenues to get her daughter returned.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Malgorzata Szymanowicz with newborn Talia

“This is a truly heart-rending story,” Mr Justice Holman said.

“There is no doubt you have been victim of a terrible crime, so my heart completely goes out to you.

“But I think there’s a limit to what judges sitting here in London can do for you.”

Current Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice to UK residents is against all travel to Libya.

After the case, Ms Szymanowicz said: “The two governments should come together to bring her back.

“I can’t do anything more, but the government can.”

In terms of visiting Libya, she added: “If it was a safe country, with no war… but it’s not.”

Image caption Gosia Szymanowicz is able to speak to Talia via Skype

The High Court case heard from Belaid’s uncle, Younes Bakhbakhi, who has lived in Wales since 1979, and his friend from Cardiff, Mohammad Azzu.

Neither men have heard from Belaid since January and do not know his whereabouts.

Mr Bakhbakhi said he did not believe Belaid was in Libya, as his family there was extremely worried about him, having heard nothing.

He said he felt Talia should be with her mother, but court hearings were the wrong place to discuss it.

“Gosia should go to Libya,” he said.

“She should go there until Talia knows her, because for Talia it would be a big shock to come here, away from the family she’s grown up with.

“That would affect Talia in the long run.”

Belaid is on licence, having been released from prison in August 2017, but since he went missing in January orders have been issued for his recall to prison.

The High Court case was adjourned for three months, but if nothing has changed in that time, the slot in the court timetable will be “vacated”.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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