A mother whose baby daughter was abducted by her estranged husband and taken to live in Libya has written to the Prime Minister and the British Embassy in Libya begging for help in getting her child returned to the UK.
The Daily Mail reports that in 2012, Mal Szymanowicz's daughter Talia was snatched by her estranged husband, Maher Belaid – Talia’s father.
Belaid took his daughter to his native country Libya, where she is being brought up by her paternal grandmother, whom she calls “mum”.
Ms Szymanowicz came to live in the UK in 2002 from Poland. She met pizza worker Belaid and the couple married and had Talia. The couple’s marriage enabled Belaid to remain in the UK – but soon after they married their relationship broke down. Talia was snatched by her father while Ms Szymanowicz was out shopping in Mothercare one day – Talia was just 15 weeks old.
“It was an ordinary day and we went shopping as a family into town,” Ms Szymanowicz said.
“While I was buying new clothes for Talia, my husband said he would go for a coffee with Talia – but instead he kidnapped her and took her to Libya.”
In a phone call from Libya after he snatched his daughter, Belaid told his wife that he was “teaching her a lesson”.
Belaid was jailed by a British court last year for child abduction, after being arrested at Gatwick Airport – but Ms Szymanowicz is unable to get her daughter back.
She has not seen her little girl for two years, except on one or two occasions via Skype – and Belaid is refusing to comply with a court order under which he has been ordered to return the child to Britain.
At his trial for child abduction, Cardiff Crown Court heard how Belaid had been inspired by his uncle Mohammed, who had also gone to Libya with his young daughter and had refused to let her return to the UK.
In court, Judge Patrick Harrington QC told Belaid to return his daughter to Britain.
“You put into effect a cruel deception – and the torment you have inflicted on a very nice girl is simply beyond measure.
“Rarely have I seen a case of such unspeakable cruelty,” he told Belaid.
The judge also apologised in court for being unable to jail Belaid for longer – adding that he would have given him a “far, far longer” jail term, had his sentencing powers allowed.
Ms Szymanowicz told the Mail:
“What Belaid has done is beyond cruel – he has deprived Talia of a mother and me of my only child. It's a physical pain that never goes away.
“It's like being in a never-ending nightmare – there must be someone out there who can help me get my baby girl back.”
Ms Szymanowicz planned to visit Libya soon after Talia was abducted by her father – however, she was advised that, as she was a western woman, she would not be safe travelling alone.
Belaid’s family refuse to take her calls and disconnect phone calls, she said.
Duncan Lewis Children Lawyers
Duncan Lewis children lawyers offer specialist advise on child abduction cases involving parent-child abduction – and our team works hard to ensure a child is returned to their rightful parent as soon as possible.
Duncan Lewis is a leading firm of Legal Aid children lawyers – and our team speaks more than 70 languages between them and has associates overseas to assist in cases of international child abduction.
For expert legal help with parent child abduction call Duncan Lewis children lawyers on 020 7923 4020.