Oliver custody case takes another twist

Five-year-old boy’s Danish father is now being charged with unlawful imprisonment by Austrian authorities

The case of five-year-old Oliver, who is caught in an international custody battle between his Danish and Austrian parents, took another turn this week.

Thomas Sørensen, the boy’s 40-year-old Danish father, is now being charged with unlawful imprisonment by Austrian authorities, multiple Danish outlets are reporting, citing the Austrian news bureau APA.

Sørensen has been summoned to appear in an Austrian court on September 25, but whether he shows up may be an entirely different matter as Danish officials have already neglected to honour an international warrant for his arrest.

“The reason is that the act that the Danish citizen is alleged to have performed in Austria also partially occurred in Denmark – an act that is not illegal according to Danish law,” the Justice Ministry said in a June press release.

The international custody battle has been going on for years. Oliver’s parents had been living together in Denmark, until the boy's mother, Marion Weilharter, took the child to Austria in July 2010, where she was given sole custody by that country's authorities. The Danish authorities, however, viewed the action as kidnapping and issued charges against Weilharter.

In April 2012, Sørensen drove to the Austrian city of Graz and took Oliver, without Weilharter’s approval or knowledge, and drove him back to Denmark. This action, in turn, was viewed as kidnapping by the Austrians, who issued the arrest warrant that has since been dismissed by the Danes.

On behalf of Weilharter, the Austrians have requested that Oliver be returned to Graz, but according to BT tabloid, the Danish Division of Family Affairs (Familiestryelsen) has informed Austrian authorities that Sørensen has full parental rights and that Weilharter risks arrest on the kidnapping charges if she appears in Denmark.

The boy has been living with Sørensen in a north Zealand location ever since. Janus Bang, a spokesperson for the father, told BT that Oliver is doing well and has regular phone contact with his mother.

On September 4, a court in Helsingør is due to rule on the Austrian request to have Oliver returned to his mother.