Judge refuses to jail ‘tug-of-love’ case dad again

Naomi Button who's daughter Elsa was snatched by her father. PIC: Adrian Murray
Naomi Button who's daughter Elsa was snatched by her father. PIC: Adrian Murray
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A judge has ruled he cannot give the father of a Leeds girl who disappeared during a holiday to Egypt a further jail term for refusing to reveal where she is.

Elsa Salama disappeared from an Egyptian hotel in December 2011.

Her mum Naomi Button, from Bramley, Leeds, has not seen her since and claims her ex-husband Tamer Salama engineered the six-year-old’s disappearance.

Mr Salama, a teacher from Southampton, has refused to comply with court orders requiring him to disclose Elsa’s whereabouts and to arrange her return to Britain. He has served two years continuously in prison for repeated contempt of court.

At the latest hearing, details of which have now been published, Mr Justice Holman turned down an application to give Mr Salama another 12-month prison sentence in the hope that he would “at last crack”.

The judge said although his contempts of court were ‘flagrant’, he was not guilty of any crime and it was clear that a further spell in prison, however long, was unlikely to persuade him to comply with court orders.

“The reality of this case is that, from day one, this father has manifested an absolute determination not, under pressure of court orders, to reveal the whereabouts of his child and not to cause her return to England.

“So far as the coercive purpose of any sentence is concerned, I am afraid it is my clear view that this man has an absolute determination, at any rate while he remains in prison, not to obey the orders of this court, and that the coercive force of any sentences of imprisonment is now spent.

“So, if I were to commit him to prison for a further term, the realistic purpose would be solely to punish him, which...I cannot lawfully further do.”

The judge added that he had the “utmost sympathy” for Ms Button and concern for the “welfare and wellbeing of Elsa”.

He said that he hoped Mr Salama’s claims that he wanted to promote some contact between Elsa and her mother would mean an opportunity for “significant forward progress in this tragic case”.

When handing down a six-month term in July last year, sentencing judge Mr Justice Roderick Wood described Mr Salama as “shifty, evasive and plainly dishonest”.

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