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Kidnap charges against reporters to stand

BBC News BBC News 14/04/2016
Noah and Lahala al-Amin pose for a picture with their father Ali al-Amin in their family home in Beirut, Lebanon © Reuters Noah and Lahala al-Amin pose for a picture with their father Ali al-Amin in their family home in Beirut, Lebanon

A Lebanese judge says there is "no way" he will drop charges against an Australian TV crew over an alleged child abduction attempt.

Noah and Lahala al-Amin pose for a picture with their father Ali al-Amin in their family home in Beirut, Lebanon © Reuters Noah and Lahala al-Amin pose for a picture with their father Ali al-Amin in their family home in Beirut, Lebanon

Four journalists and the children's mother were arrested in Beirut last Thursday, along with two British and two Lebanese men.

Sally Faulkner says she had not seen her children in a year after her ex-husband took them on holiday.

Judge Rami Abdullah deferred the case until Monday.

"There was a violation of the Lebanese authority by all these people, it's a crime," Judge Abdullah told the media on Wednesday.

Those arrested face kidnapping, assault and association charges, which can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in jail.

CCTV footage broadcast by Lebanese TV appears to show six-year-old Lahala and four-year-old Noah being bundled into a car by several men on a busy street in southern Beirut last Wednesday morning.

They had been heading to school with a domestic worker and their paternal grandmother, who says she was knocked to the ground during the abduction.

Two British employees of the UK-based company Child Abduction Recovery International (CARI), and two Lebanese men were later detained, as well as Channel Nine's Tara Brown, Stephen Rice, Ben Williamson, David Ballment and Ms Faulkner.

Ms Faulkner's lawyer Ghassan Moughabghab reportedly said the judge was pushing for the pair to reach a custody agreement.

"We are finding a solution that will resolve all of the problems. The solution is an agreement between her and her husband. It will not be a private agreement but one the court will accept. They are talking now, a couple of times," Mr Moughabghab was quoted as saying.

The custody dispute between Ms Faulkner and her ex-husband, Ali al-Amin, has reportedly been going on for several years.

Mr al-Amin, 32, spoke to AAP outside court and said the children were being "sheltered from it all".

Lebanon is not party to the Hague Convention, a treaty designed to ensure the swift return of children abducted internationally by a parent.

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