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Man who left daughters in Libya jailed again

·2-min read

A man who took his children from their mother and left them with relatives in Libya has been given another jail term after a judge concluded that he was again in contempt of court.

Mr Justice Poole imposed a 12-month prison sentence on Mohammed El Zubaidy on Monday after concluding that he had breached orders made during the latest round of a High Court fight with estranged wife Tanya Borg.

The judge imposed the sentence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court, in London.

He had heard evidence at a hearing in mid-November, and adjourned sentencing.

El Zubaidy was at Monday’s hearing and was led away, by High Court officers, in handcuffs.

Ms Borg, of Pewsey, Wiltshire, has been fighting to get Angel El Zubaidy, now 21, and her 10-year-old sister Maya, back to Britain since El Zubaidy left them with his mother in Tripoli in 2015.

She took High Court action in London following her daughters’ disappearance and judges have previously handed El Zubaidy, who lives in London, jail terms after concluding he had breached orders aimed at getting Miss El Zubaidy and her sister back to the UK.

He was given a 12-month term in 2017 and another 12-month term in 2018.

Mr Justice Poole has heard how Ms Borg and El Zubaidy are both in their 40s and met two decades ago.

He was told that Ms Borg, who was born in Malta, travelled to Libya in 2019.

The flag of the Libyan Republic outside the Libyan Embassy in London (Sean Dempsey/PA)
The flag of the Libyan Republic outside the Libyan Embassy in London (Sean Dempsey/PA)

A Libyan judge ruled that she should have custody of her daughters.

But a barrister representing Ms Borg told Mr Justice Poole that she still could not remove her daughters from Libya without El Zubaidy’s permission.

Clare Renton said El Zubaidy had to give that permission by signing a document at the Libyan embassy and a judge in London had earlier this year made orders requiring him to do that.

She said he had not complied with orders and was in contempt.

Mr Justice Poole agreed.

“It is frankly cruel to leave them stranded in Libya,” said the judge on Monday.

“His conduct has been consistently and wilfully defiant over a number of years.”

The judge said El Zubaidy had “arrogantly” placed his own judgment above the judgment of Ms Borg and successive High Court judges.

“He appears not to recognise the authority of the courts, in this jurisdiction or in Libya,” said the judge.

“He has blatantly defied the court.

“I find it difficult to understand why.”

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