French woman kidnapped in “ military ” style operation, rescued in Switzerland, Europe News & Top Stories
NANCY (AFP) – An eight-year-old girl was rescued in Switzerland on Sunday April 18, five days after being abducted from her grandmother’s French home in a “military” -type operation with the alleged implication from his mother.
After a massive search, investigators found the young girl, Mia, and her mother Lola Montemaggi in a squat inside an abandoned factory in the Swiss municipality of Sainte-Croix, French prosecutors said.
The 28-year-old mother was arrested along with five men accused of helping her.
All five have been charged with the kidnapping of a minor, and four of them are in custody, said the prosecutor’s office in Nancy, in northeastern France.
Three of the men posed as child protection officials – even using false identifications – to convince Mia’s maternal grandmother to hand her over to their home in the village of Poulières, near the border on Tuesday French with Switzerland.
No violence was used in the kidnapping, but Nancy prosecutor François Pérain said it was a “military operation”, with the kidnappers “extremely well prepared” even giving it a name of. code: “Operation Lima”. They had walkie-talkies, camping gear, fake license plates and a budget of 3,000 euros (S $ 4,800) to cover expenses, the prosecutor said.
The kidnappers were not known to the police but were described as part of the same “community of ideas”.
“They are against the state and mobilized against what they call a dictatorship of health,” said the prosecutor, adding that for them “children in care are unfairly taken from their parents”.
‘A huge relief’
After the kidnapping, three of the men and his mother crossed the Franco-Swiss border, taking turns with the child.
Then a man surnamed Romeo picked up Mia and her mother in a Porsche and drove them to a Swiss hotel.
They then spent a night with a woman “sympathizer of the movement” before arriving at Sainte-Croix.
Five people linked to the kidnapping, aged 23 to 60, were arrested in France from Wednesday to Friday.
Mia is safe and healthy, and a psychologist and social worker would take care of her before she is returned to her grandmother, the prosecutor said.
But with the story becoming big news in France, intense media pressure meant they would not be reunited at Poulières immediately, investigators said.
Mother Lola Montemaggi did not resist arrest when Swiss investigators arrived at the abandoned factory in two vans, although Mia shouted, eyewitnesses told an AFP photographer.
Montemaggi has been placed in Swiss police custody and should soon be the subject of a European arrest warrant for his extradition to France.
Nearly 200 police officers were mobilized in the search effort.
For his paternal grandparents, his rescue “is a huge relief,” they said through their lawyer.
“It is the end of the nights of anguish and fear for the life of our little girl, in particular because of the extremist commitments of the kidnappers”, they added.