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3 US citizens questioned in Romania

Friday, January 16, 2009

BUCHAREST, Romania —  Three U.S. citizens have been asked to remain in Romania while authorities investigate the alleged kidnapping of a child that has been the subject of a custody dispute, a Romanian prosecutor said Friday.

The three Americans are being questioned in the alleged abduction of Stefan Barbat-Alexander, 8, in the central Romanian town of Sacele on Tuesday, prosecutor Claudiu Sandu said.

The boy disappeared from his school during a break. The school's staff alerted his mother, Marcela Barbat, and hundreds of police began a nationwide search.

Police found the child with the three Americans on Wednesday 200 meters (yards) from Romania's southern border with Bulgaria. Authorities ordered the three not to leave Romania.

Police refused to name those being questioned. Authorities are barred by law from naming suspects until they are arrested and charged.

"They are being investigated for depriving the boy of his freedom and will stay in Romania for 30 days while the investigation is under way," Sandu said.

The child told police that one of the three claimed to be related to his father and that he had come to take him back to the United States, a police statement said.

Barbat, 36, has sought a divorce in Romania from Brandon Alexander Sharwin of New York City, Sandu said.

A federal warrant for parental kidnapping has been issued in Barbat's name according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

___

On the Web:

http://www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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