An eight-year-old girl was rescued in Switzerland on Sunday, five days after being kidnapped from her grandmother’s French home in a “military” style operation with the alleged involvement of her mother.
After a massive search, investigators found the girl, Mia, and her mother Lola Montemaggi in a squat inside an abandoned factory in the Swiss municipality of Sainte-Croix, French prosecutors said.
The 28-year-old mother was arrested along with five others accused of helping her.
Three of the men posed as child welfare officials — even using forged identifications — to convince Mia’s maternal grandmother to hand her over at their home in the village of Poulieres near France’s border with Switzerland on Tuesday.
No violence was used in the abduction, but the public prosecutor of Nancy, Francois Perain, said it was like a “military operation,” with the “extremely well-prepared” kidnappers even giving it a code name: “Operation Lima.”
They had walkie-talkies, camping gear, fake licence plates, and a budget of 3,000 euros to cover expenses, the prosecutor said.
The kidnappers were not known to police but were described as part of the same “community of ideas”.
“They are against the state and mobilized against what they call a health dictatorship,” the prosecutor said, adding that for them “children in care are unfairly taken from their parents”.
Mia is safe and in good health, and a psychologist and social worker would take care of her before she is handed back to her grandmother, the prosecutor said.
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