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UK withdrawing warrant for ill boy's parents

September 2, 2014
Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — U.K. prosecutors are withdrawing the arrest warrant in the case of a British couple who took their 5-year-old son out of the country in hopes of getting a new type of radiation therapy for his brain tumor.

The Crown Prosecution Service made the move Tuesday in a hearing at Britain's High Court and said in a statement afterward they were "in the process of communicating this decision to the Spanish authorities so that they can be reunited with their son as soon as possible."

Ashya King's case has riveted Britain, with heated debate as to whether authorities acted appropriately in chasing the parents through Europe after they left Southampton General Hospital last week without the consent of doctors.

Prime Minister David Cameron took the highly unusual step of wading personally into the debate, tweeting after the hearing that he welcomed the prosecution against Ashya's "parents being dropped. It's important this little boy gets treatment & the love of his family."

Brett and Naghemeh King took Ashya out of England and traveled to Spain, where they planned to sell a property to pay at least $33,000 for proton beam radiation therapy in the Czech Republic or the U.S. They were arrested on a British warrant on suspicion of cruelty to a person under 16 years of age.

But police on Tuesday said the current situation was "not right." Andy Marsh, chief constable of Hampshire Police, says their intent was to secure his safety — "not to deny him family support at this particularly challenging time in his life."

Earlier in the day Cameron told the radio station LBC that the plight of Ashya reminded him of his late son Ivan, who had cerebral palsy and epilepsy. The prime minister recalled having his own son sit on his lap and feeding him through a tube.

"I just hope there'll be an outbreak of common sense — and a rapid outbreak of common sense — so that the family can be reunited with this young boy and the best treatment can be given to him, either in the United Kingdom or elsewhere," he said.

A Spanish court spokesman declined immediate comment on when the parents could be released, but a lawyer for the couple said the judge has the options of releasing them immediately or having them stay overnight in jail to be released at the previously scheduled court hearing at 11 a.m. (0900GMT) Wednesday.

"The only reason for them to stay in prison has expired," lawyer Francesco Luca Caronna told The Associated Press. "If the system works, they should open the doors to the jail immediately."


Associated Press writer Jorge Sainz contributed to this report from Madrid.



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