Hendon man in battle for the return of his sister’s twin sons
By Koos Couvée
A MAN from Hendon is seeking political support to help his Vienna-based sister win custody of her two sons.
For two years Adrian Alexander, 34, of Sunningfields Road, has been running a campaign for his sister, Beth Schlesinger, who has been mired in a custody battle over her twin sons with her estranged Austrian husband Michael.
Mr Alexander said that on July 25, 2011, his four-year-old nephews Samuel and Benjamin Schlesinger, were taken away by their father, who had won sole custody of the children.
According to Mr Alexander, Mr Schlesinger, a trainee doctor, had alleged in court that his Cambridge-educated wife Beth was mentally ill and won the case based on what Mr Alexander said was a flawed mental health assessment.
The ruling was reduced to temporary custody on appeal, pending further evidence – but Mr Alexander said that the only thing the judge did was to order that Mrs Schlesinger was mentally assessed.
Despite a new assessment, which found that his sister had never suffered from mental health issues, the legal process has stalled as Mrs Schlesinger asked for a new court and judge to hear the case.
The 29-year-old is now only able to see her sons on Tuesdays and every other Sunday, Mr Alexander said.
He told The Press: “We want our politicians to acknowledge that a grave injustice has been done and to find a way to highlight our case at government level.
“My sister is tired from fighting this case in the courts and it is very depressing for everyone, particularly as it is affecting the life and welfare of two innocent children.”
Emil Brix, Austrian ambassador in London, said: “The custody case of the twins is still with the Austrian courts, which are independent and free from government interference.
“Regarding the substance of the case it is for the court to decide what is best for the two children after taking into consideration all arguments brought forward by the two parties involved and their lawyers.
“Personally, I understand how stressful this unresolved situation must be, especially for the mother who has to wait for a decision about her children from a court in a foreign country.”
Matthew Offord, MP for Hendon, said: “I am limited in what I can do but I have lobbied colleagues at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to make deputations to their counterparts in Austria. We hope that the Austrian legal system sorts out the judicial process so that the mother can get access to justice.”
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