German couple abandon children at pizza restaurant

A German couple abandoned three young children at a pizza restaurant in Italy because they had run out of money, a police official said. The mother has been charged and her partner is being held as he is already wanted by German authorities.


AFP - A German couple abandoned three young children in Italy because they had run out of money, a police official said Friday, adding that the mother had been charged.

Her partner meanwhile, who is wanted by German authorities, was under arrest, reports said.

Caterina Remhof, 26, and Sascha Schmidt, 24, who is not the father of the children, walked out of a restaurant in the northern town of Aosta on Sunday after ordering a pizza for the children.

Police stepped up patrols at Italy's borders, ports, train stations and airports, and broadcast their picture, but they were finally found in a wood outside Aosta Thursday.

A senior Aosta police official, Lorenzo Mesiano, told AFP that Remhof had been charged with abandoning the children and allowed to go free.

Her parents had arrived in Aosta to accompany them back to Germany, where social services would take care of them.

Schmidt meanwhile was under arrest pending the receipt of an international warrant from Germany, ANSA news agency said. German police said earlier that he was on the run after not returning to prison while on parole.

Prosecutors said he had been jailed for crimes including blackmail and that his sentence had been due to end in mid-2011.

Mesiano said Remhof had told questioners that abandoning the youngsters had seemed to be the best solution because the couple, from Finnentrop in North Rhine-Westphalia, had no money left.

ANSA quoted Schmidt as saying that they had wanted to take the children, the youngest of whom is only a few months old, to the seaside but ran out of cash.

Mesiano said that authorities had feared that the couple had committed suicide.

"It is a very sad story which has ended well," he added.

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