Police have charged the mother of two Chechen girls, snatched by masked men in south-eastern Norway on Tuesday afternoon, with complicity in their abduction. The girls’ father Mansur Mahasev, already named by police as central to their disappearance, was also charged on Wednesday with deprivation of liberty.
Six-year-old Rajana and eight-year-old Samaja were taken after getting off a school bus between Kongsvinger and Austmarka on their way to their foster home. A case about the girls’ ongoing foster care was due to be heard this week. Police believe the father was at the scene with the two masked men who grabbed the girls and drove off in a silver Toyota.
Police said on Wednesday evening that the mother had been charged with complicity in the abduction. “The background is that we believe there is reason to think that both parents have been in on this in one way or another,” Hedmark police prosecutor Iren Johnsen Dahl told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “She denies having anything to do with the abduction.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Mahasev was charged with deprivation of liberty. “We have made observations of the man at the scene,” Dahl said. “The action yesterday looked like it was well planned. The children were taken by force and physically put in the car. Beyond that there is no information that anyone has come to be hurt. All indications are that they have been abducted against their will.”
They received tips on several cars in the area, and did not know if the girls had been transferred to a second car.
Police said Mahasev also held up the girls’ foster father. “He held up the foster father for 20 to 25 minutes, so that he could not alert either his wife or police straight away,” said Bjørn Berntsen from Kongsvinger police. He said no direct threats were used, and the foster father was unharmed.
Police said they’d received several tips from witnesses, but they want to speak to more people who were in the area. “We want to make contact with the owner and driver of a dark Volvo XC90 with the registration number BR 50003, and a silver-beige coloured Toyota Corolla Verso with registration KH 41262,” said Dahl. “These are observed in the area where the abduction took place.”
NRK reported the Volvo owner worked in the same company as Mahasev. The company boss, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was surprised by the news. “I know him as an honest and proper guy,” he said of Mahasev. “It is strange that he’s wanted by police. If he has broken the law, he should have a very good reason for that.”
He said he knew Mahasev wanted his children back from foster care. “I was there when he called child protection some weeks ago. He asked them if they had delivered the letters he had written to his children, but got the response that they hadn’t. Then he was in a bad mood.”
The boss, who was abroad when he spoke to NRK, said he had not heard from Mahasev and would tell him to report to the police if they did come into contact. He was surprised about the involvement of a second employee’s car, saying that worker was also a decent person.
Domestic violence and neglect
The lawyer appointed as counsel for the girls, Brit Kjelleberg, said she was very concerned about the sisters’ well-being. Mahasev was reported for neglect in December, and the case was under police investigation. “The case is being investigated as domestic violence,” she said. “There is talk of assault, and in this case it is suspected that this has gone on over time.”
The lawyer appointed for Mahasev when he was reported by child services, John Christian Elden, said the father strongly denied the neglect accusations, and disagreed with the decision to remove the girls from their parents’ care.