Return of Zimbabwe Diplomat’s Son Delayed Temporarily
NEW YORK (AP) _ A 9-year-old Zimbabwean boy who officials say was brutalized by his diplomat father will stay in a foster home during appeal of a decision to return him to the African nation, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.
″He is terrified of going back to Zimbabwe,″ Legal Aid Society lawyer Henry Weintraub said, arguing against turning over Terrence Karamba to the U.S. State Department for eventual return to officials of his country.
Weintraub told a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the boy had ″been under tremendous psychological stress″ and had attempted to jump from a moving car and from a second-floor window to avoid returning home.
Weintraub said there was ″a very real fear of political persecution″ of the boy if he was returned.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Igou Allbray, arguing for the child’s return to the custody of Zimbabwean officials, told the judges that Zimbabwe was ″angry and frustrated and has accused this country of kidnapping the child.″
″The issue here, your honors, is strictly one of diplomatic immunity,″ he said. ″It’s as if this child never left Zimbabwe.″
But Ralph K. Winter, the presiding judge of the appeals panel, countered: ″Diplomatic immunity is a shield, not a sword. No one is suing the child.″
Winter said the court wanted ″the status quo of the child maintained for a short period of time.″ The appeals court tentatively scheduled a hearing on the appeal for Thursday.
Terrence was placed in foster care Dec. 11 after his elementary school teachers in Queens noticed suspicious scars and injuries.
Attorneys for the city Human Resources Administration and Legal Aid Society have claimed the injuries were inflicted by the father, Floyd, an administrative attache at the Zimbabwean Mission to the United Nations.
The injuries included ″whipping scars all over his body″ and ″pieces of skin missing,″ said Robert F. Wayburn, an HRA attorney.
The elder Karamba, who had diplomatic immunity here, returned to Zimbabwe Dec. 28. His wife and two daughters, ages 3 and 6, are expected to return to Zimbabwe shortly, said Elizabeth Johanns, a Legal Aid staff attorney. The girls apparently were not beaten, she said.
In its ruling Monday, the court appeals panel also sent the case back to federal court in Brooklyn for Judge Jack B. Weinstein to appoint a guardian to represent the boy in court.
Earlier Monday, Weinstein refused to delay the boy’s surrender, prompting Legal Aid to seek the appeals court hearing.
While attorneys and judges debated the fate of the boy, he was ″in his pajamas under a bed refusing to come out,″ said Joseph Carrieri, attorney for St. Christopher-Ottilie, a private social service agency that was contracted by the city to place the boy in a foster home.
During a two-hour meeting Sunday with a psychologist for St. Christopher’s, and a State Department psychologist, Terrence ″began screaming and yelling at the thought of going home,″ Carrieri said.