Europe

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Mum begs for return of abducted daughter

Dave Higgens

Published 25/01/2013|08:07

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A mother has launched a worldwide appeal to help find her five-year-old daughter who was snatched by her father in Egypt.

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Elsa Salama, who will be six next month, has not been seen or heard from by her mother Naomi Button, 39, who lives in Leeds, since a family visit to Egypt in 2011.



Last week, her father, Tamer Salama, had another year added to his jail sentence for his continuing failure to comply with court orders to return his daughter to her mother in the UK.



Salama was told by a judge sitting at the High Court in London, that it was now time for him to "wake up" and recognise that the "state of affairs" was not in the best interests of his daughter Elsa.



Egyptian-born Salama, 35, has been in custody since January last year and was serving a total of two years for contempt of court until Mr Justice Cobb ruled that he had committed fresh breaches of the court orders made in relation to Elsa and should serve another year.



Now Ms Button is launching an international appeal to help find Elsa.



She said: "The worst times are when I wake up in the middle of the night.



"I worry that she's crying for me.



"I wonder that she thinks I just left her.



"I don't know what she's been told. I don't know if she thinks I don't want her and I just left here in Egypt."



She said: "Please just let her come home to her mummy. She found it very difficult being away from me for any length of time.



"I know that she wants to be back home with mummy and I hope that they do the right thing."



Elsa since was abducted in the resort of Sharm El Sheikh on December 27 as she visited her father's family.



The judge said last week: "I regard the continued state of affairs as one which is wholly outside Elsa's best interests and I believe that the father needs now to wake up and recognise that."



He said: "When Mr Salama first deprived Elsa of the love of her mother and arranged for her to be in the care of his own family, that was a gross act which undoubtedly justified ... the most serious punishment available to the court."



The judge said it was "vital in Elsa's interests that she is restored to the care of her mother as soon as possible".



He also said he believed Elsa's father was not being honest with the court when he said his incarceration was preventing him complying with orders.



Elsa's English mother and her father married in Egypt in December 2005.



Their daughter was born in Egypt and the family relocated to England in 2007. The couple separated in 2009, with Elsa remaining in the care of her mother.



In December 2011, both Salama and Ms Button went to Sharm El Sheikh for a holiday with Elsa.



The court heard how Ms Button had arranged and paid for a two-week trip to Egypt so that Elsa could see her extended paternal family.



Salama, a physics teacher who was living in Southampton, returned to England from Egypt on January 1 2012. He then breached court orders made in favour of the mother which resulted in his being jailed.



Speaking after the court case, Kate Banerjee, from the law firm representing the family, said: "Elsa is without the love and care of either a mother or father in a country where she doesn't speak the language or understand the culture.



"We appeal to anyone who knows Elsa's whereabouts to just pick up the phone and help us return this little girl to her mother."







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