Father central to abduction case

Bookmark and Share

Police believe the father of two young Chechen girls, grabbed by masked men after getting off a school bus in south-eastern Norway on Tuesday afternoon, was central to their disappearance. The father had been charged with neglect, and a case over the girls’ ongoing foster care was to be heard this week. 

Six-year-old Rajana and eight-year-old Somaja were abducted by two masked men after they got off a school bus in south-eastern Norway on Tuesday afternoon. The girls were originally from Chechnya, and were living with foster parents. PHOTO: twitter.com/HedmarkOPS

Six-year-old Rajana and eight-year-old Somaja were abducted by two masked men after they got off a school bus in south-eastern Norway on Tuesday afternoon. The girls were originally from Chechnya, and were living with foster parents. PHOTO: twitter.com/HedmarkOPS

More details emerged about the abduction late on Tuesday night. Hedmark police released photos and named the two sisters as six-year-old Rajana and eight-year-old Somaja. They also named the suspected father as Mansur Mahasev, born in 1971.

The girls were taken by two masked men after getting off their school bus at Masterudveien, between Kongsvinger and Austmarka, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). They were bundled into a silver Toyota. Police believed the girls’ father was at the scene of the kidnapping, then fled to an escape car parked nearby. It was not known if any of the other children on the bus witnessed the ordeal.

The two girls were living in a foster home. Police prosecutor Iren Johnsen Dahl told NRK Mahasev had then hindered the foster parents from calling the police so authorities weren’t notified about the kidnapping until half an hour later, around three o’clock. Police were unsure whether the car had headed for Finnskogen and Sweden, Oslo or Kongsvinger. “Most probably it has driven towards Kongsvinger,” Dahl said. Customs officials and Swedish police were involved in the investigation.

Kongsvinger police chief Bjørn Berntsen said there had been a number of interesting tips since the news broke on Tuesday afternoon, but they were calling for more witnesses. “Among other things, we now have a clearer picture of what type of car the children disappeared in,” Bertsen told newspaper Dagbladet. “We are still searching for a silver car, possibly a Toyota. But we have not received tips from anyone who has seen the car after the disappearance from the school bus outside Kongsvinger.”

Neglect charges
Dagbladet reported on Tuesday night that Mahasev was facing child neglect charges, but the case had not yet been scheduled. “I can confirm that we are assisting the Kongsvinger father, and that the child welfare case should go up to the county board this week with questions concerning the takeover of care,” said lawyer John Christian Elden. “Beyond that, I cannot comment on the case now.”

Police said the girls' father Mansur Mahashev, born in 1971, was central to the kidnapping. The girls' ongoing care in a foster home was due to be considered this week. Mahashev had been charged with neglect, but no date had been set for his case. PHOTO: twitter.com/HedmarkOPS

Police said the girls’ father Mansur Mahashev, born in 1971, was central to the kidnapping. The girls’ ongoing care in a foster home was due to be considered this week. Mahashev had been charged with neglect, but no date had been set for his case. PHOTO: twitter.com/HedmarkOPS

“He disagrees with the Norwegian authorities’ allegation of negligence in the biological family, but I find it inappropriate to comment on the details of this now,” Elden later told newspaper VG.

The foster case was to be handled by the Oslo county child welfare board this week, where it would have been determined if the children would remain placed in a foster home.

Since moving to Norway from Chechnya, the family had been living at an address in Grorud, Oslo. Technical investigations were taken over by Oslo police. Armed officers raided the father’s home around eight o’clock on Tuesday night. “We were at the site, but can not say anything about what findings may have been made,” said Dahl. NRK reported police did not remain at the home for long, and did not make any significant seizures.

Small community rocked
The girls had been students at Austmarka school since January, when they moved in with a local foster family. “There are not many students here at the school of foreign origin,” principal Britt-Marie Paulsson told Dagbladet. “The sisters have become very well integrated at the school, have many friends and are just like the other students.”

Paulsson said the school of less than 120 pupils was in shock, and they had cancelled their end-of-term summer party on Tuesday evening. “This of course affects us strongly,” she told NRK. “This is a little community, and now we must only hope for the best.”

Kongsvinger mayor Øystein Østgaard said the municipality was working to help inform and support families. “It is clear that the students, parents and the whole community must be informed,” he said. “This is what we’re doing now. In addition, it may be appropriate to get a team in place from the municipality with psychologists and others who can help.”

“Kongsvinger is a peaceful town, and this is actually in the outskirts of the town, in an area of Austmarka,” Østgaard said. “It is a small community, where everyone knows everyone, and this affects the whole community there.”

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate