Two young sisters kidnapped after getting off their school bus in Kongsvinger earlier this month are now in Russia with their father, confirmed the father’s Norwegian defense lawyer on Friday. Their kidnapping set off an international manhunt, since Norwegian authorities had placed the girls in foster care after they’d allegedly been beaten.
Their kidnapping made national headlines when two masked men grabbed the girls, six-year-old Rajana and eight-year-old Somaja, and drove off with them while their father prevented their foster father, who’d been waiting for them at the busstop, from calling police or pursuing them.
That immediately made the father, originally from Chechnya, the key suspect in the abduction case. The girls had been taken away from him and his wife in Oslo on charges of neglect, and placed in a foster home in Kongsvinger.
Since the father retained legal custody to the girls, however, he claimed though his Norwegian lawyer that an international warrant issued for his arrest was illegal. An appeals court ruled in his favour last week, but the police investigation into the abduction has continued.
Police immediately feared the girls had been taken out of Norway, with the spot where they were abducted only a short drive from the Swedish border. On Friday, newspaper Dagbladet reported it had spoken with the father, and his attorney John Christian Elden confirmed the girls were with their father in Russia.
The father claims he rescued the girls from child welfare authorities. An attorney appointed by a court to represent the girls said it will now be difficult to get the girls back to Norway. Police investigators told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that defense attorney Elden had not contacted police regarding the father’s whereabouts, and that the police investigation would continue.