Lebanese woman Ibtissam Berri sits next to a picture of her granddaughter Lahela al-Amin. Photo / AP
A Lebanese state prosecutor has extended the detention of an Australian woman, an Australian TV crew, and others on suspicion of attempted kidnapping after assailants tried to snatch the woman’s two children from their father’s care in Beirut last week.
Sally Faulkner, with four Australians, two Britons, and two Lebanese, was brought into police custody last week after a botched attempt was made to seize Faulkner’s 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son as they headed for school with their paternal grandmother.
Faulkner has accused her Lebanese ex-husband, Ali Al-Amin, of moving the children from Australia
without her permission in 2015.
The detainees include prominent Australian TV presenter Tara Brown and her 60 Minutes crew from Channel Nine TV.
Lebanon’s state news
agency reported that State Prosecutor Claude Karam would move forward with his investigation after receiving the police report.
The official said the judiciary would explore whether Faulkner has the right to custody of the children under Australian law, which could serve as a mitigating factor in the investigation.An investigative court will take testimonies from the suspects beginning tonight. They will be allowed translators and lawyers at their hearings, a judicial official said.
The children’s grandmother, Ibtisam Berri, said she and a domestic worker were taking the children to school when two men jumped out of a parked car and took the children away.
She said a cameraman was filming the scene from the car.
At least one of the Britons is being held on suspicion that he planned to smuggle the children out of Lebanon on his boat, docked in a private Beirut hotel, police officials said.
The authorities returned the children to Al-Amin, who told a local TV station that he would not sue his former wife.
“She is the mother of my children … if I were her I would have done the same,” he told LBC last week.
He told Al Jadeed TV that Faulkner and Australian security agencies knew he was leaving Australia with the children and denied kidnapping them from their mother.
Lebanon is not party to the Hague Convention, which provides recourse to parents who claim their children have been abducted internationally.