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19th Apr 2021

Abducted French girl, 8, found in Switzerland five days after disappearance

Sarah McKenna Barry

The child was found in good health after being abducted from her grandparents’ home.

A French eight-year old who was kidnapped from her grandmother’s house in France has been rescued by authorities in Switzerland, five days later.

According to French prosecutors, Mia Montemaggi was found in good health in an abandoned factory in Sainte-Croix in Switzerland.

Up to 200 officers were involved in the search for Mia over the course of five days.

Her mother Lola, who was found with her, has been arrested for her role in the kidnapping, along with five other men.

Mia had been living with her grandmother since last January after her mother told a judge that she wanted to “live on the margins of society”.

The kidnappers convinced Mia’s grandmother to let her go with them by posing as child welfare workers. They used forged identifications to strengthen their case.

They then walked Mia and Lola over the border into Switzerland. They spent one night in a woman’s home before arriving in Sainte-Croix.

While no violence was used in the abduction, authorities have described the kidnapping as being like a “military operation”. Francois Perain, the public prosecutor in Nancy, described the people involved as being “very well-prepared”.

The abductors had walkie-talkies, forged documents, camping gear and €3,000. They used the code-name “Operation Lima” to refer to the kidnapping.

Police described the kidnappers as being part of a movement that opposes the state and believe that “children in care are unfairly taken from their parents”.

The group form part of a “community of ideas” that is against what they describe as a “health dictatorship”.

Mia will receive care from a psychologist and a social worker before returning to her grandparents’ home.

Following the five day search, Mia’s grandparents described her rescue as a “huge relief”.

They said: “It is the end of nights of anguish and fear for the life of our little girl, in particular because of the extremist commitments of the kidnappers.”