'Kidnap dad' falsely accused and may sue state
By Jacqueline Agathocleous
THE MAN who was accused by his estranged wife of kidnapping their 10-year-old daughter, resulting in a Ryanair flight from Paphos to Italy returning midway on Tuesday, may sue Cyprus for damages.
The lawyer for the man said local police acted had acted without any evidence that the child’s mother’s claims were true.
Lawyer Charalambos Artemis yesterday said he felt the need to stand up for his client, when he saw the story being falsely represented in the media.
The man in question, who is a police sergeant in Larnaca, is currently separated from his wife and has joint custody of their two children – a 10-year-old girl and a teenage boy.
“On February 22, a consensual court order was issued, where we agreed that the children would be looked after by their mother and live with their mother but their father would have communication rights,” Artemis told the Cyprus Mail. “These include two periods every summer.”
When police issued a circular on May 28, informing all officers that they would not be entitled to annual leave in July as they were needed for the EU presidency, Artemis’ client was forced to change his summer holiday with his children.
“So we sent a letter to her (the mother’s) lawyer asking for the dates to be changed and they were changed,” Artemis said. “So from June 26 until July 2, the children were supposed to be with their father.”
With the teenage son refusing to spend time with his father as a result of the separation, the policeman decided to take his daughter to Bergamo, Italy.
“There is no stop list, order or anything stopping him from taking his children abroad,” said Artemis, who can’t explain why his client’s wife claimed her daughter had been abducted.
“Our client told the mother that he was taking the child abroad,” he said. “From the airport he got his daughter to call her mother to say goodbye before they got on the plane.”
But just 40 minutes after the plane took off, an announcement was made that the plane would be turning back. “On their return, my client was taken to migration. When they realised there was a court order allowing my client to travel with his daughter, they admitted he was right; because there was no court order, no stop list, not even an official complaint to back the mother’s claim.”
Realising their blunder, police apologised to the distressed father and daughter.
Now the little girl is with her father until she has to return to her mother on July 2.
“Basically what happened – from what I know as I haven’t yet been formally informed by CID – someone made a complaint, either by phone or by a visit to the police, and without looking into it at all to see if there was a court order or something, they (police) got the plane to turn back,” said Artemis. “The result was the plane being delayed, passengers being inconvenienced, my client being humiliated and we have a 10-year-old girl going through all this for nothing.” He added: “This is gross negligence, to say the least”.
As a result, the man’s lawyer has filed a written complaint to the chief of police, head of migration and the child commissioner “and we reserved all our rights to take further steps”.
Apart from the inconvenience and humiliation he has suffered, the father also lost €700 from hotel cancellations, lost plane tickets and penalty fees. “We are thinking of suing the government for the financial and emotional consequences this has caused,” said Artemis.
The lawyer also hinted there could be more trouble brewing for the Republic, when he pointed out that the whole unnecessary incident led to Ryanair’ flight schedule being messed up – “and you know what happens when Ryanair suffers delays”.
But Ryanair yesterday said it “does not comment on, or engage in, rumour or speculation”.
Regarding the plane captain’s decision to return the plane – only the captain can make such a decision – it added: “Ryanair is fully investigating the incident.”
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides yesterday told the Cyprus Mail: “An investigator has been appointed to investigate the incident and generally the circumstances under which the incident occurred.”
(Source: Cyprus Mail)
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