Danish father shocked by Austrian kidnapping ruling

Claims he “followed law to letter” but court decided taking his son from mother’s car outside kindergarten was illegal

An Austrian judge yesterday reinstated the one year prison sentence against Thomas Sørensen, the Danish father accused of kidnapping his own son in Austria last year.

Sørensen’s original conviction for the same crime was overturned due to a procedural error. He was due to appear in court on the charges in April, but did not show up. At the time, he said that he was afraid that he would be imprisoned by Austrian authorities.

Sørensen attended yesterday’s proceedings and heard the court reinstate his original conviction.

During the trail, Sørensen questioned the branding of his travelling to Austria in April 2013 to retrieve his son as 'kidnapping'.

He told the court that the entire operation took about 10 seconds and that Oliver was not at any time frightened or upset.

“Oliver arrived with his mother at the kindergarten, and I went to the car and opened the door,” Sørensen told the court. "Oliver smiled a huge smile when he saw me and he was never afraid, he just asked me where we were going.”

Another witness told the judge that she did not see Sørensen put Oliver in the car, but heard his mother's reaction.

“I saw a car driving away and heard a panicked woman screaming,” she said. “I thought at first there had been an accident.”

Oliver's mother, Marion Weilharter, told that witness that she had been restrained by another man while Sørensen took Oliver. Sørensen has always denied that Weilharter had been held. He told the court that he was focused on Oliver during the incident, so he wasn’t really aware of Weilharter’s state.

Sørensen was accompanied to Austria this time with witnesses, including a representative from the Justice Ministry, who were there to explain to the court why Sørensen believed he had not violated any laws by taking his son back to Denmark.

“I have followed Danish law to the letter,” he told the press. “Austrian courts do not recognise Danish law.”

Sørensen said he was shocked and saddened by the decision.

“It is unfair. I never wanted all of this drama, I just want Oliver to have both of his parents,” he said.

Sørensen he is still deciding whether he will appeal the verdict.

“Although it is an unfair judgement, it is not in Oliver’s best interest to continue this case.”

Sørensen has returned to Denmark, where the boy remained during the trial.

Weilharter told the court that when Oliver was taken, “I was afraid I would never see my son again.”

Sørensen said that he has tried, via various agencies, to allow Weilharter to have contact and joint custody of Oliver.

“She has refused to come to Denmark to see him for over a year. I do not know what else I can do,” he said.