Manama: A 10-year-old Qatari-British boy at the centre of an intense legal custody battle will be staying with his grand-mother in Doha, a Qatari court said on Thursday.
The verdict stunned campaigners who have been offering tremendous support to the Bahrain-based mother Rebecca in her efforts to gain custody of her son, Adam “Fawaz”.
However, Rebecca and Barrie Jones, her British husband whom she married after the death of her Qatari husband, plan to appeal the court decision.
“We lost the custody case today, but this is stage one and we will appeal,” said Barrie.
“We lost custody of my beautiful little boy this morning. It took them less than five minutes to give custody to a 77 year old woman who is too old and sick and cannot even communicate with my son. My heart is breaking and also my family are devastated. The other family smiled and laughed when custody was awarded and did not even have the respect to keep quiet. It is a truly devastating time for us all, but the battle has just begun. I will never accept this decision and I will continue the fight to get my son back. We attended court today with the British Embassy and the Human Rights Committee and they are standing with us to get justice for Adam,” he wrote on Facebook.
Adam was living in Bahrain with his Sheffield-born mother Rebecca and Barrie Jones when he and his mother went in October to Qatar to visit the family of his father.
Rebecca married Jamal, Adam’s father, in 1998, ten years after she moved to Bahrain, Adam's father. Their son was born in 1999, but the couple divorced late in the year. The father returned home, but remained in contact with them until his death in a motorbike accident in Qatar in November 2005. Rebecca and Adam nevertheless kept in touch with the family in Doha.
According to the mother, she and Adam were invited to Qatar to spend time with the family and see his supposedly sick grandmother. They arrived in Doha on October 3, leaving behind Barrie, her husband of five years, and Alex, their four-year-old daughter.
The first two days were wonderful with the family who were the perfect hosts, according to the mother, but on the day of their departure, Adam was invited to spend one hour with his ailing grandmother while Rebecca was called for a meeting with Adam's uncle.
She was eventually duped into signing papers in Arabic allegedly about Adam's inheritance share. The papers, Rebecca said, allowed the Qatari grandmother to file for custody of Adam.
A report in the Qatari daily Gulf Times said that Rebecca was "accused of being an unfit mother." She also said that Adam was being instructed in Islamic studies and Arabic. “I want him to be fully aware of this part of his life and his culture,” the mother said, according to the paper.
Barrie flew to Doha to be with his wife and the couple has filed a case charging the Qatari family with kidnapping Adam who has the British and Qatari nationalities. The mother said that she has had any contact with her son since October 5.
However, the vociferous support for the Jones could not drown a call “to adopt a fair attitude and listen to what the Qatari family had to say about the case.”
But the Jones quickly dismissed it.
“Fairness? They kidnapped a child and held him prisoner in an undisclosed location for the past six weeks with no communication to anyone. The British embassy and the The Authority for minors have both been denied access to ascertain the child’s state of mind and welfare. This is a kidnapper. Fairness does not come into it. Kidnapping a minor is a crime,” they said.
A call by a supporter of the campaign to bring Adam home suggesting the creation of a chant about Adam that will be voiced during Saturday's soccer match between England and Brazil in Doha in order to embarrass Qatar was dismissed as a senseless and illegal move that could backfire and harden the case for the British family.
“Should the Jones face a protracted court battle after today, they will need all the legal, financial, diplomatic and moral support they can get,” Les Horton, a British editor in Bahrain, said.
“But it will need to be constructive support that helps to further their case, not damage it. Emotional, angry outbursts or demonstrations will not help as the Jones try to change the minds of the judiciary and Adam's Qatari relatives.”