Solicitor Ergün Top says that his client had no ill-intent. “There was absolutely no question of threats, violence, coercion or abduction. They are very close, and both have a great love of nature. This is why they had hit the trail together”.
According to those close to Ilias’ 26-year-old uncle things haven't gone too well for him. He failed his exams and then had difficulties starting up his own business. Consequently, he decided to change his life radically and to start bushcrafting, going back to nature with respect for the natural environment. “He had arranged with his nephew that they would go bushcrafting in August. However, this didn’t go ahead as he still had a number of things that needed doing”.
The Uncle decided to carry out his plan in September. However, then Ilias would be back at school.
Eventually the 12-year-old decided to join his uncle. They had planned to go to a nature reserve on Belgium’s border with France. They slept twice in a field during the three days that Ilias was missing. They kept their plan a secret as Ilias was afraid that his parents wouldn’t let him go.
“And his Uncle wasn't aware that he was doing anything wrong. He didn’t reflect on what the consequences would be or that Ilias is a minor and as such can’t just decide not to go to school”, Mr Top is keen to stress.
"Of course he didn’t intend to do the boy any harm. They have just had a good time”.
Mr Top added the fact that his client was named in a terrorism investigation is because he was a witness that gave a statement about someone he knows that went to fight in Syria. The man has no previous convictions of any kind, the solicitor stressed.