U.S. mother recovers children in Croatia after father’s kidnapping

December 24th, 2010 - 4:07 pm ICT by BNO News  

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) — Three children who were kidnapped by their father earlier this year were recovered in Croatia and returned to the United States on Wednesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said on Friday.

Michael Mobin Meskal, 45, father of the three children, is suspected of taking the children out of the country in violation of the parental rights of the victims’ mother.

After returning from a business trip in August, the children’s mother, Natasha Meskal, discovered that her husband and children were missing. She later learned that her husband had taken her children to Syria without her permission.

According to the complaint, Natasha Meskal then traveled to Syria, where her children had been enrolled in school and was told that her husband refused to return them to the United States.

In late November, Natasha Meskal contacted detectives with the Fountain Valley Police Department in Southern California to report that her husband had abducted her three children. Detectives initiated an investigation, which was joined by the FBI as it had been determined that the children were taken overseas without the mother’s consent.

After several weeks, Michael Meskal on December 9 agreed to travel with his children to Croatia to meet with their mother. Natasha Meskal then purchased plane tickets for her husband and three children to Zagreb in Croatia and traveled there to meet them.

Before the trip, a federal criminal complaint was filed and a federal arrest warrant was issued on the next day. Based upon the local missing children reports and the federal arrest warrant, Interpol’s National Central Bureau in Washington, D.C. issued three Missing Person Diffusions and one Wanted Person Diffusion directly to Interpol’s Croatia Bureau in Zagreb.

When Michael Meskal traveled with the children to Croatia on December 15, police officers in Croatia arrested him and reunited the children to their mother. They finally returned safely to the U.S. on late Wednesday afternoon.

Michael Meskal and Natasha Meskal are legally married and, at the time of the abduction, there was no formal custody agreement between them. However, Natasha Meskal has since filed for divorce and an emergency order in California seeking full custody of her children.

Michael Meskal was charged in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, California, with international parental kidnapping. The U.S. government will seek the extradition of Meskal - who is currently being held by law enforcement authorities in Croatia - based on the pending federal charges.

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