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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 June 2006, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Tug-of-love mother's legal battle
Nassima Sadia
Nassima Sadia is at centre of an international custody dispute
A Belfast woman has begun a campaign to win back her seven-year-old daughter who is at the centre of a tug-of-love dispute.

Dawn Sadia, from Dee Street, east Belfast, said the last 10 weeks without her child, Nassima, have been a "nightmare".

Her husband, Mustapha, took their child to his native Algeria for an Easter holiday and refused to bring her home.

Dawn intends to work through the international courts and is campaigning to bring her child back to Belfast.

She has set up a website for Nassima and has been "overwhelmed" with messages of support.

Dawn is now concentrating on raising public awareness as well as funds for a court battle.

Nassima, a pupil at Elmgrove Primary School, went on holiday with her father, who was known in Belfast as Giles and who worked as a taxi-driver.

"This was a normal annual holiday. The first two years I went with them, but I developed a fear of flying," Dawn explained.

Yet she felt it was important for her daughter to know her father's family, her cousins, her aunts and uncles.

'Normal visit'

"It was a normal visit. I took them to the airport and kissed them goodbye," she said.

The first hint that something was wrong came on the day when father and daughter were due home.

On 19 April, her husband phoned to say they were not coming back.

"I got a message that said he wanted to stay and he was keeping Nassima. It was just like a matter of a fact," she said.

Ward of court

When she tried to talk to her daughter, she was told she wasn't there. When she rang early in the morning, she was told Nassima was sleeping and could not come to the phone.

On 27 April, Nassima was made a ward of court by the High Court in Northern Ireland - but Dawn believes she may have to fight the case in African courts.

"The fund raising is for when we do track down my husband and daughter, I will need to get an Algerian lawyer go to their courts and fight a legal battle to have Nassima returned to me," she explained.

She understands it could be a long battle.

"I have hopeful days, but I have days where I lose hope," she said.

"There is not a lot of success rate in non-Hague convention countries.

"Nassima is on an Algerian passport ... She is not even a dual nationality in Algeria. Even as her mother, from what I have read, I don't have any rights."

It is understood that under Algerian law, any children born to British women who are wives or partners of Algerian citizens are also regarded as Algerian citizens if the father's name is on the birth certificate.

It means that if such a child is brought into Algeria they can only leave if the father signs what is known as an "authorisation paternal".

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