French National Charged with Parental Kidnapping
BOSTON – A French national who previously resided in East Boston was charged today in federal court in Boston in connection with kidnapping his three-year-old child in violation of court orders.
Malik Benhamza, 33, was charged in a criminal complaint with one count of international parental kidnapping. Benhamza is currently a fugitive and believed to be in Algiers, Algeria.
As alleged in charging documents, on Feb. 2018, Essex County Family and Probate Court granted Jerusha Hall sole legal custody of her and Benhamza’s three-year-old child, and granted Benhamza visitation rights during specific days and times. The judgement also stated that neither parent could travel outside of Massachusetts with the child without written notice/consent to the other parent. On July 1, 2018, Benhamza did not return the child to Hall following a scheduled visit. Hall contacted law enforcement who traced Benhamza’s cell phone the following day to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Law enforcement reviewed records of flights originating from JFK Airport and discovered that on July 1, 2018, Benhamza departed aboard Royal Air Moroc Flight 201 with the child and disembarked in Houari Boumediene Airport in Algiers, Algeria. According to court documents, Hall did not give permission to Benhamza to take the child out of the United States, and has neither seen, nor heard from the child since July 1, 2018.
The charge of international parental kidnapping provides for a sentence of no greater than three years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division made the announcement today. The Salem Police Department provided assistance with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth G. Shine of Lelling’s Major Crimes Unit are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.