Axel H. was arrested in September in Cairo, Egypt after having been on the run with his children – two boys and two girls aged between four and nine – since Easter.
After having lost custody of the children in divorce proceedings, Axel H. used a pretext for taking the children from their mother's home in Celle, Lower Saxony, on Easter Monday and flew with them to Egypt. He spent some time in Sudan with them during their 136-day ordeal, before returning to Egypt.
According to a report in Bild newspaper, the man, who confessed before the trial began, told the court, “Because of my faith and the law, I feel I have a duty to bring up the children.”
The unemployed careworker also told the judge that he fled to Egypt because it was near to Germany and he hoped he would escape extradition there, since Egypt has no agreement with Germany for returning kidnapped children.
Questioned about his motives, he said, “I believe that what is in the Bible is God's word,” and that his wife's divorce and new relationship was a breach of religious law. He said that he could not allow his children to grow up in her home.
Axel H. faces a five-year prison sentence.