The anti-vaccine German couple who held their two daughters in Paraguay surrenders to the police
German Andreas Egler and Anna Maria Egler - father of one and mother of another of the two girls who were taken to live in an anti-vaccine community in Paraguay - leave after the restitution hearing held in Asunción, on June 10, 2022.
German Andreas Egler and Anna Maria Egler – father of one and mother of another of the two girls who were taken to live in an anti-vaccine community in Paraguay – leave after the restitution hearing held in Asunción, on June 10, 2022.NORBERTO DUARTE (AFP)

The escape is over. The anti-vaccine Germans who escaped to Paraguay taking their daughters without the consent of their ex-partners have surrendered this Thursday to the Paraguayan authorities. They lived with the girls, who are well, in German communities that have been rooted in Paraguay for decades and that today receive hundreds of anti-vaccine and European conspiracy theorists of all kinds, communities that did not collaborate with the investigation, according to the Anti-kidnapping police.

“The girls are already here,” says the Deputy Commissioner for Anti-kidnapping, Mario Vallejos in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, where the girls and their parents were transferred to make themselves available to Justice.

Andreas Rainer Egler, father of Clara, 10, and Anna Magdalena Blank, mother of Lara, 11, surrendered to the police on Thursday along with the girls after more than half a year without giving news to Anne Reiniger, mother of Clara, and Filip Blank, Lara’s father, or Interpol, who were also looking for them. They had been missing since November 27. Andreas and Anna disappeared without notifying their respective ex-partners and only got in touch after Anne and Filip told the press about the case. Parents in Germany were desperate, spending months spending their savings on lawyers and fruitless searches throughout the country. Anne wept and begged her ex-husband on camera to stop running away.

Two days after the news of the alleged kidnapping broke, Andreas and Anna showed the girls in a video posted on social media. From there, contact began by encrypted messaging and a negotiation that concluded on Thursday with the voluntary surrender of the couple along with the girls, according to Anne and Filip’s lawyers.

This Friday, the four parents met at the Palace of Justice in Asunción to complete the procedures for the return of the girls.

“The voluntary surrender of Messrs. Egler puts an end to the constructive negotiations of the last few days. (…) In many conversations, the conclusion has been able to mature that ending the flight was the only option, especially in attention to the well-being of the girls, “the lawyers said in a statement.

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The public search has ended and the parents involved “strongly ask to respect their privacy, as well as that of their daughters.” Everyone hopes for a prompt return to Germany and “a return to a fully normal life,” added the lawyers.

The authorities will now decide – especially in Germany – how to proceed based on the best interests of the girls. “This analysis will not be distinguished from other regular family law cases. We expressly ask to stop reporting on the situation of the children involved,” the defenders say.

Anne Reiniger, Clara’s mother, and Filip Blank, Lara’s father, thanked all the authorities involved in Paraguay, as well as in Germany. Also to the Coordinator for the Rights of Children and Adolescents (CDIA), and the Wieder Zurueck association, dedicated, from Germany, to prevent other cases of abduction or kidnapping like this one. The Eglers are required by the German justice “for the commission of the punishable act of abduction of persons,” according to the CDIA.

During the pandemic, Germany has become the European nation with the largest number of expatriates in Paraguay. They are already the third largest immigrant community in the country, behind Brazilians and Argentines. At least 1,644 Germans completed their settlement process in Paraguay in 2021, according to the Migration Directorate. Almost triple that in 2020. And, as of March 30 of this year, another 575 had completed this process.

Some religious and right-wingers see Paraguay as a refuge from covid-19 vaccines. Officially, right now there are some 7,731 Germans living in Paraguay, but it is not known how many there really are due to the permeable borders of this country, where anyone who wants to can enter or leave by walking or sailing through one of the 3,739 kilometers of river and land border that it shares with Brazil, Argentina or Bolivia.

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