After three years and four months, Sydney mum Iryna Tarakan is finally reunited with her two sons who were taken to Lebanon by their father.
“I fell on my knees and I hugged him and started to cry and scream. I was pretty emotional,” Tarakan, 33, told The Australian about seeing her youngest son Michael – the last to be returned to her – for the first time last month, after three years apart.
“He didn’t hug me, his eyes were wide open, he was shocked,”
The story bears remarkable similarities to that of Brisbane mum Sally Faulkner, who enlisted the help of television program 60 Minutes to kidnap her two children from Lebanon in April 2016 after her former husband took them for a “holiday” never to return.
The botched operation ended in the arrest and lucky release of Faulkner and the journalists involved, including high-profile presenter Tara Brown.
And while Tarakan’s fight to have her children returned echoes that of Faulkner’s, this time there is a different ending.
Sally Faulkner speaks to Mia Freedman about her inherent fear her children wouldn’t recognise her. Post continues below.
Tarakan told The Australian the ordeal started when her estranged husband, Tony Sukkar, called her one Monday after Christmas in 2014 asking if he could keep the boys, Ghattas and Michael (aged two and five at the time), just one more night.
The pair’s daughter, Najla, then seven, was home with Tarakan.
Tarakan said she agreed to let the boys stay, not knowing Sukkar was going to fly the kids to Lebanon – where he has family and there are no laws mandating the return of kidnapped children – that evening.
After he took the children to Beirut, Tarakan claimed Sukkar permitted her to speak to the boys over Skype and on the phone but he refused to return them to Australia.