VILNIUS - In the latest twist of the tug-of-war tale, the father of Luisa Rinua, Michael Rinau, was arrested in Latvia at Riga International Airport on suspicion of abducting his daughter.
Latvian officers detained German citizen Michael Rinau at the airport on Oct. 21 as he was trying to fly home with his three-year old daughter.
Lithuanian police went to Latvia to bring the pair back to Klaipeda.
"We received a telephone call from our police officers on the Latvian border at 7.30 a.m. this morning. They told us that they had been notified by Latvian officials about the detention of the man and his daughter at the Riga airport. The daughter is feeling well. The German citizen is apprehended and remains at the Riga airport. Our officers will go to Latvia to bring the man back to Lithuania," Albinas Strunyla of the Klaipeda police said on radio.
Luisa's mother, Lithuanian citizen Inga Rinau, told BNS on Tuesday she was waiting for her daughter to be brought back to Lithuania.
The day before the arrest, Inga Rinau approached local police, saying that her former spouse had abducted their daughter.
Michael Rinau's lawyer Jonas Kiauleikis confirmed that his client had taken Luisa following reports about plans to ignore the latest court rulings to return the girl back to Germany.
The mother has been litigating for her daughter in Lithuanian and German courts for a few years. Both German and Lithuanian courts found that she took the child to Lithuania illegally and was to return to her the father.
Michael Rinau's actions seem all the more bizarre because under the enforced ruling of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, Luisa Rinau has to be returned to him in Germany anyway. Inga Rinau had been fighting to overturn the German Oranienburger Court's ruling that said she must be returned because she was a German citizen born in Germany.
In order to legitimize her residence in Lithuania, Inga Rinau had her daughter naturalized and acquired Lithuanian citizenship for her on her behalf.
In July 2006, Inga Rinau received a permit from her former spouse to travel to Lithuania with her daughter, however, notified him from her home country that she would never come back to Germany.
As the mother had the father's consent to take the daughter away for a limited (two-week) period, the girl was taken to Lithuania legitimately, courts ruled, however her prolonged stay without the father's consent and after the end of the legal term was illegal.
She told The Baltic Times in August that she had originally fled with her daughter to Lithuania because of financial support from her family.
Michael Rinau claims that throughout the battle he has been made to look like a monster in the media. Politicians have also used the saga for their own ends. "I listen to the politicians who say I can come live in Lithuania, a country, where I was made inhuman by political campaigns," Michael Rinau said.
"Obviously, everyone has the right to talk about the child, the mother's and the father's rights, but clearly defending the father's rights doesn't seem to have the same appeal as defending the mother's rights during election campaign," he added.
Child welfare specialists condemned the two-year debacle saying that they are only hurting the child by fighting over her.
"The parents should make every effort to stay close to the child because she has only been with the mother for the last two years and she doesn't understand the reasons behind this 's she doesn't know the laws," Laura Morkuniene, deputy director of the State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service under the Ministry of Social Security and Labor said.