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Franklin County attorney files criminal charges against father of missing 11-year-old

February 10, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Khalil Mohamed Atteya, known by his family as Niko, was separated from his mother and aunt while visiting his father in Egypt.
Submitted photo

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — For the first time since 11-year-old Khalil Mohamed “Niko” Atteya was last seen while on a vacation to Egypt last August, criminal charges have been filed in the United States.

Franklin County District Attorney Matt Fogal filed criminal charges Friday against Niko’s non-custodial father, Mohamed Araby Atteya, for concealment of the whereabouts of a child.

The offense is a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

 Magisterial District Judge Kelly Rock issued an arrest warrant on Friday.

In December, Fogal met with Niko’s mother, Kalliopi “Kalli” (Panagos) Atteya.

After a thorough review of the evidence and an analysis of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, Fogal determined that criminal charges were appropriate.

 “At this point, it’s been a number of months that this mother has been without her child .... If I can do something to help this mother, I’m going to do it,” Fogal said.

Niko has been missing since Aug. 1, when a driver was transporting the boy, his father, Kalli Atteya and his aunt, Maria Panagos, from Cairo to Port Said, according to an affidavit. The driver complained of car trouble and pulled over.

Police said Niko remained in the car while the others exited. The father and driver then got back into the car, leaving the two women by the side of the road.

In the affidavit, Kalli said that Niko was “pounding on the back window and screaming as they drove away.”

Kalli also said that she has not had any contact with her ex-husband or her son since that day.

Mohamed Atteya has also been indicted by a grand jury in New Hampshire for two counts of false statement for changing Niko’s name on a birth certificate to obtain a new passport.

Kalli petitioned and received custody of Niko through the Egyptian courts in August 2011. She also received a temporary custody order through the Franklin County Court in October 2011, according to the affidavit.

For Niko’s family in Fayetteville, Friday’s charges are the breakthrough they have been waiting for since he disappeared six months ago.

“It’s very good news. We have been trying to get this from the beginning,” said Niko’s aunt, Olga Panagos-Kriska. “This is a huge, huge step.”

Officials at the U.S. Department of State told Panagos-Kriska that once charges were filed against Mohamed Atteya, the FBI and Interpol would become involved in the case.

“With this, they’ll put alerts on Mohamed Atteya’s traveling for one thing. If he goes to travel anywhere, a flag will come up to prevent him from leaving the country,” Panagos-Kriska said.

Since August, Kalli and Maria have remained in Egypt, except for a brief trip home in December. But due to the political unrest in Egypt, both Kalli and Maria are returning home this weekend.

 “They aren’t safe being over there. Anything could happen to them,” Panagos-Kriska said. “It’s kind of bittersweet. They are coming home, but at the same time, they are leaving Niko behind. I know it’s hard for Kalli.”

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