𝗔𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁 𝗯𝗮𝗿𝘀 𝗠𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗵𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗺𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿, 𝗕𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗔𝗹𝗲𝘅𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿, 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝘀𝗲𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝘄𝗶𝗻𝘀 (𝟯𝟭.𝟭𝟮.𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟭)
Manchester mother Beth Alexander has suffered a fresh blow in her tragic custody battle through the Austrian courts.
A new court ruling has now denied her all contact with her 12-year-old twin sons Benjamin and Samuel. The case has made headlines throughout the world over a decade.
The court claims it “would not be in the children’s best interests” to see or speak to their mother.
The latest judgment follows new proceedings brought by Beth under The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU), which was established to enforce the Articles of the 1996 and 1980 Hague Convention.
Following a series of rulings, which Beth views as “suspect”, made by the Austrian courts in favour of the twins’ father, Dr Michael Schlesinger, of Vienna, the 37-year-old Cambridge graduate says she lost all faith in the Austrian jurisdiction. She had entertained renewed hope following Brexit and sought to reopen the case for a retrial through what is purported to be an independent legal arena under the auspices of the Hague.
In response to Beth’s application for indirect and direct contact with her sons, the Austrian courts ruled that no other jurisdiction would be recognised and seized conduct of the case themselves, sending it back to the local Austrian district court and on to the desk of the same judge, Susanne Gottlicher who made the initial highly contested decision to remove the children from Beth’s care and control to award sole custody to the father.
Beth has always alleged that he subjected her to psychological terror and physical violence throughout their short marriage. Following a series of decisions that she dubbed as “dubious”, Beth launched a media campaign and lobbied British MPs.
An unprecedented motion by the latter saw Beth’s case raised in parliament in 2014, alleging corruption in the case based on what MPs described as highly irregular and inexplicable decisions taken by the Austrian courts which, without any real justification, deprived a mother of her basic human rights.
Rejecting the latest application for unsupervised contact, Judge Gottlicher ruled that no court contact would be ordered, leaving it at the discretion of the father to decide when and how often the mother can see the children, despite the mother’s having presented evidence of the father’s history of blocked phone calls and communications.
Having lost everything, Beth left Vienna in November 2016 to embark on a law degree and now practises as a family solicitor in London.
On receiving the Austrian court decision Beth said she was “stunned” and “re-traumatised by the blatant and ongoing injustice” in her case.
“He is inflicting untold damage on his own children, which will undoubtedly leave deep scars and cause long lasting effects throughout their lives.”
Beth met Michael at the age of 22 and moved to Vienna following their marriage in 2006. She alleged that her husband was abusive from the start but the abuse and intimidation worsened after the birth of their twin sons. “Coercive control is a criminal offence in this country, with perpetrators facing a prison sentence of up to five years,” said Beth. “Yet, in my experience of family courts, the abuser has been allowed to continue waging his abuse in full glare of public view.
“Being a man, the religious community of Vienna have closed ranks to protect and support him.”
“I only hope that the latest developments in both the Chaim Walder and Ghislaine Maxwell scandals, will be enough to shake up our rabbis and leadership. “Harsher measures must be taken to start rooting out abuse to stop more lives being destroyed by shameless abusers who consider themselves above the law.”
- In response to a comment on Facebook querying whether the Jewish Telegraph has fully investigated the story from both sides, we have featured the plight of Ms Alexander extensively over the years. We twice visited Vienna and spoke in person to many of those involved, as well as interviewing others by telephone. One key player apologised to Ms Alexander over her own involvement, insisting that her actions had been as a result of pressure from the Schlesinger family. We even spoke to Dr Schlesinger’s own estranged father who revealed that history was repeating itself. We remain convinced that there is something inherently rotten about this case.