The child, a boy, was aged 5 _ at the date of the alleged wrongful removal. He had until then been living in Australia. The parents had been cohabiting for 2 years, but separated shortly before the birth. The mother moved to Tasmania when the boy was two.
The competent Australian court granted the father a right of access. In May 1999 the mother, who was a Swiss national, moved back to her home country with the child. In breach of Australian law she did not obtain the agreement of the father.
On 24 January 2000 the father petitioned for the return of the child. Prior to the trial a pyschiatric evaluation of the child was ordered since he was suffering from severe mental problems.