French town against girl returning to US father

3rd June 2004, Comments 0 comments

DRAGUIGNAN, France, June 2 (AFP) - A town in southern France is rallying around a three-year-old girl and her French mother to stop the child being returned to her American father in defiance of French and US court rulings, municipal officials said Wednesday.

DRAGUIGNAN, France, June 2 (AFP) - A town in southern France is rallying around a three-year-old girl and her French mother to stop the child being returned to her American father in defiance of French and US court rulings, municipal officials said Wednesday.

Many of the inhabitants of Draguignan, in the mountainous back country behind the French Riviera, have signed a petition demanding the local council support the mother, Sophie Washington, 37, and have started raising funds to pay for a lawyer, the mayor, Nello Broglio, said.

The regional prosecutor, Christian Girard, has twice gone to Washington's parents' home over the past week only to find the mother and her daughter Charlotte absent.

Washington last month lost an appeal in a French court against an earlier ruling ordering her to return the girl to her father, who lives in New York state, under a treaty governing such international child custody disputes.

A US court has issued a warrant against Washington for the "illegal retention" of the girl. According to Washington's family, the mother took the girl from the United States in 2003 after a family dispute.

"If she returns to the United States, she risks prison. And in France, they want to take away her child and give her to her father. We are asking that she (Charlotte Washington) be allowed to live with her mother while awaiting a legal decision," Broglio said.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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