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Thursday, February 02, 2012

French Jewish mother wins custody battle with Saudi prince who kidnapped child

Bittersweet:

The Paris criminal court ordered Prince Sattam al-Saud from the kingdom’s founding royal family, to hand over custody of his daughter Aya to her French mother, Candice Cohen-Ahnine, and provide child support of €10,000 (£8,300) a month.

For the past three-and-a-half years, the prince has kept Aya in a Riyadh palace despite efforts by the French foreign ministry and President Nicolas Sarkozy's office to resolve the issue.

But the French court ruling appears to have had no effect on the prince. “What do I care of Sarkozy?” he is cited as telling Nouvel Observateur magazine. “If need be, I’ll go like [Osama] bin Laden and hide in the mountains with Aya.”

Miss Cohen-Ahnin, 34, and the prince met in London 14 years ago at Brown’s nightclub and their daughter was born in November 2001.

Their relationship continued until 2006 when he allegedly announced that he was obliged to marry a cousin, but that she could be a second wife. She refused and they separated.

Miss Cohen-Ahnine claimed that her daughter was taken from her during a visit to Saudi Arabia in 2008 and that she was held in the prince’s palace where she had only fleeting meetings with her daughter.

She said she managed to leave when a maid left her door open and she sought refuge in the French embassy.

Miss Cohen-Ahnin was eventually spirited out of the country after the prince allegedly produced a document purporting that she had been Muslim but had converted to Judaism — a crime punishable by death.

She said she was concerned about her daughter’s upbringing when she discovered Facebook photos of her in a niqab and playing with her father’s firearms.

Despairing at the lack of diplomatic progress, she published Give My Daughter Back, a book recounting her ordeal, in October.

Since the court ruling, the prince faces an international arrest warrant for ignoring the custody sentence.

Mrs Cohen-Ahnine said the court ruling was a “great victory for me and vindicates everything I have said … but I’m still very worried for my child’s future.”

The prince denied ever having kidnapped the child or the mother.

The prince said he would send lawyers to France to challenge the court decision but not his daughter.

“France hasn’t got the right to take her back. She is a Saudi citizen and a princess. They cannot oblige a princess to leave this country,” he said.
Digital Journal adds:
International Family Law states that under Saudi law "A foreign parent cannot take her or his children out of Saudi Arabia if the other parent is a Saudi national even if the foreigner has been granted custody rights." This position is reiterated by the U.S. State Department which advises "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction." Saudi law always favors a Muslim parent over a non-Muslim parent, and the family members of the father have more rights than a childs mother.

So there is at least one Jewish princess in Saudi Arabia - who can never leave.