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The BBC's Rob Watson
"Doesn't mean an imminent return to Cuba for Elian"
 real 28k

The BBC's Alan Grady
"It was the 3rd time an American court had ruled in favour of Elian Gonzalez's father"
 real 28k

Friday, 23 June, 2000, 23:58 GMT 00:58 UK
Elian asylum appeal fails
Elian Gonzalez and Miami-based relatives
Elian Gonzalez' Miami relatives say they will fight on
An Atlanta appeals court has ruled that Elian Gonzalez will be free to return to Cuba on 28 June unless the Supreme court intervenes in the case.

The court denied a petition by the boy's Miami-based relatives, including his great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez, asking it to reconsider its decision not to grant an asylum hearing.


I am hopeful that this father and son will soon be able to move on with their lives together

Janet Reno

This represents another serious blow to their efforts to keep him in the United States.

But the Miami relatives say they now plan to appeal to the Supreme Court on Monday to block Elian's departure until it hears the case.

An injunction preventing Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, from taking the six-year-old boy home to communist Cuba will expire next Wednesday, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals said.

Delays

Last week, Juan Miguel Gonzalez' lawyer Gregory Craig urged the judges to "see through Lazaro's charade, stop the excruciating delays and allow this family to go home."

Elian and Juan Miguel Gonzalez
Elian and his father may soon be back in Cuba

After Friday's hearing, Attorney General Janet Reno said: "Now that the court has conclusively upheld our decision, I am hopeful that this father and son will soon be able to move on with their lives together."

Armando Gutierrez, spokesman for the Miami relatives, said they were not daunted.

"The family does not feel defeated and they still have faith in God that the Supreme Court will accept the appeal in the same way God saved Elian from drowning."

Shipwreck survivor

Elian survived a voyage from Cuba last November. His mother and 10 other people seeking asylum in the US drowned when their boat sank.

Plucked from the sea by US coastguards, Elian was placed in the custody of his great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez and second cousin Marisleysis.

Elian Gonzalez taken into care by US Agents
Elian was seized by US agents in April

There followed a bitter and highly politicised custody battle between his Miami relatives and his father, who wants Elian to return to Cuba with him.

Having defied repeated requests from US authorities to return Elian to the care of his father, federal agents staged a dramatic raid on the Miami relatives' house on 22 April to seize the boy.

In Havana, the Cuban government issued a brief statement acknowledging the decision but making not further comment.

President Fidel Castro has made it a personal crusade to secure Elian's return, with his government mobilising hundreds of thousands of people to take part in a series of rallies.

Preparations are continuing for a previously scheduled pro-Elian rally involving 400,000 people in the eastern city of Holguin on Saturday.

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See also:

02 May 00 | Americas
Elian's story: Special report
02 Jun 00 | Americas
Father's plea to end Elian feud
02 Jun 00 | Americas
Cuban anger at court ruling
01 Jun 00 | Americas
Court rejects Elian asylum bid
26 Apr 00 | Americas
In pictures: Elian strike
18 Apr 00 | Americas
Elian's relatives at war
27 Apr 00 | Americas
What's life really like in Cuba?
12 Jun 00 | Americas
Children march for Elian
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