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The BBC's Nick Bryant
"The political fallout for the Elian custody case is still being felt in Washington"
 real 28k

Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 06:00 GMT 07:00 UK
Elian's father enters court battle
maryland
Security is tight around the Gonzalez family's new base
The father of Cuban shipwreck boy Elian Gonzalez has filed an emergency motion seeking the sole right to speak for his six-year-old son before the courts.

The motion marked the first direct use by Juan Miguel Gonzalez of the United States court system in his five-month custody battle with his Miami relatives, who say Elian should not be forced to grow up in communist Cuba.

Meanwhile, a child psychiatrist who interviewed Elian for the government has recommended that the Miami relatives should not meet the boy until they have reconciled with his father.


Elian
Elian and his father
Elian remained secluded in the Aspen Institute's conference centre in Maryland with his father, stepmother and half-brother, waiting to be joined by four playmates who are en route from Cuba.

Elian's 10-year-old cousin Yasmani Betancourt Valentin, and a former teacher, Agueda Cecilia Fleitas, arrived there late on Wednesday.

Greg Craig, the attorney for Juan Miguel Gonzalez, asked the court to reject a bid by the boy's great-uncle and former temporary guardian, Lazaro Gonzalez, to have his lawyers and doctors see Elian and speak for him before the court.

"Whatever the motives of Lazaro Gonzalez and his kin may be, it is sadly obvious that Elian indeed has been made the unwilling pawn on the chessboards of United States-Cuba relations, politics and innumerable other agendas," the motion said.

"This case cries out for this father's personal intervention to save his son from further manipulation."

'Private time'

Father and son were reunited last Saturday after federal agents stormed the Miami relatives' house and seized the boy.


Elian
There was outrage at Elian's seizure
An Atlanta court is scheduled to consider on 11 May an appeal by the Miami relatives to win a political asylum hearing for the boy.

The court last week ordered Elian to remain in the US pending appeals.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said that Dr Paulina Kernberg of Cornell University Medical College had interviewed Elian.

The psychologist reported that "Elian is doing very well" but "needs more private time with his family," the spokeswoman said.

"She believes that before the Miami relatives see Elian, they need to work out their differences with Juan Miguel."

Lazaro Gonzalez, his daughter Marisleysis and other Miami relatives are now in Washington, campaigning to keep the boy in the US.

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See also:

26 Apr 00 | Americas
Playmates for Elian
26 Apr 00 | Americas
In pictures: Elian strike
22 Apr 00 | Americas
Analysis: Elian divides America
23 Apr 00 | Americas
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US media debates dawn raid
22 Apr 00 | Americas
Reno's role in Elian saga
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