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Monday, 26 June, 2000, 21:53 GMT 22:53 UK
Elian relatives go to Supreme Court

Elian and his father could be free to leave on Wednesday
The Miami relatives of Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez have appealed to the US Supreme Court in a final effort to keep him in the United States.

Without Supreme Court intervention, a ruling preventing Elian and his father from returning to Cuba will expire on Wednesday.

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro: Not lowering his guard

A federal appeals court unanimously rejected the relatives' request for a rehearing last Friday, and said emphatically it would not take up the case again.

Lawyers for the Miami relatives have asked Justice Anthony M Kennedy, who handles emergency matters from Florida for the Supreme Court, to keep Elian in the United States until a formal appeal is acted on.

A few weeks delay in the long legal fight over the boy "is a minimal cost in a case with stakes of such magnitude," the lawyers said.

The lawyers acting for Elian's Florida relatives - who looked after the child for five months after he was rescued from a shipwreck which drowned his mother last November - argue that the Immigration and Naturalization Service violated Elian's rights by failing to interview the boy or hold an asylum hearing.

Deadline

A federal trial judge in the District of Columbia on Monday threw out another lawsuit brought by Elian's great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez.

The case sought to prevent Elian from leaving the country unless US officials could certify that Cuba would not violate the boy's human rights.

Elian's father, Juan Migual Gonzalez, who is staying with the boy at a location near Washington is expected to return to Cuba with his son as soon as legal obstacles to his departure are removed.

Elian was reunited with his father on 22 April, after US federal agents launched an armed raid on the Miami relatives' home to remove the boy.

Cuban President Fidel Castro told a rally on Sunday that he was encouraged by US court rulings against efforts to keep Elian in the US.

But he said Cuba would not lower its guard until Elian and his family were back home on the island.

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See also:

02 May 00 | Americas
Elian's story: Special report
23 Jun 00 | Americas
Elian asylum appeal fails
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
18 Apr 00 | Americas
Elian's relatives at war
27 Apr 00 | Americas
What's life really like in Cuba?
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