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The father of a 10-year-old boy who went missing three weeks ago said Monday he’s relieved police called off further searches in the frigid waters along Montreal’s north shore.

Frederic Kouakou told reporters he never believed the police’s theory his son fell into the water. The father maintains his child was abducted.

“It gives me more hope,” Kouakou said, in reaction to Monday’s decision by city police to end searches in the Riviere des Prairies.

“We are humans, we are made of flesh but also of spirit,” the father said. “On a spiritual level, I am happy the Montreal police are calling off river searches so we can have all of our energy focused in the same direction ... towards the theory of abduction.”

Insp. Ian Lafreniere said Monday police will continue land searches and are still encouraging the public to come forward with any information on the whereabouts of Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou.

He said melting ice along the river is contributing to stronger currents and making the water search too dangerous.

“We did a lot of searches Friday and Saturday on the river,” Lafreniere said during an interview. “We had a canine unit from Halifax, the Canada Border Services Agency showed up with a robot.

“A lot of energy was put in and we had a lot of hope, but unfortunately it didn’t work.”

Police continue to believe the boy accidentally fell into the river because they claim a witness put Kouakou in a park near the water before he went missing and there are no images of him leaving the area.

“We have video surveillance, we have a credible witness who spoke with (Ariel) at 11:25 (a.m.),” at the park near the river, Lafreniere said.

Frederic Kouakou refuses to believe that theory.

“For us,” he said, “our son is still alive.”

Lafreniere said investigators are not ruling out foul play and added that police have questioned about 40 people in connection with Kouakou’s disappearance on March 12, when he left his house to visit a friend and never returned home.

“We never ruled out a criminal possibility, that’s why we have so many investigators from the major crimes unit that were working on this dossier,” Lafreniere said.

The father of a 10-year-old boy who vanished March 12 in Montreal says he thinks Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou was kidnapped, after police divers called off a river search Tuesday. Frederic Kouakou says his wife has been “destroyed” by the ordeal.

The Canadian Press

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