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U.S. Attorney: Zimbabwe Impatient with Legal Battle over Diplomat’s Son

January 5, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ A boy allegedly abused by his diplomat-father has been temporarily spared from returning to Zimbabwe despite an attorney’s argument that the African country believes the United States kidnapped the youngster.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that 9-year-old Terrence Karamba can stay in a Long Island foster home while lawyers battle against his immediate transfer to State Department custody.

The three-judge panel tentatively scheduled a hearing on the boy’s appeal for Thursday.

″We want the status quo of the child maintained for a short period time,″ said Circuit Judge Ralph K. Winter.

The panel sent the case back to federal court for Judge Jack B. Weinstein to appoint a guardian to represent the boy, who was placed in foster care Dec. 11.

The boy was removed from his family after his elementary school teachers here noticed suspicious scars and injuries.

City attorneys said the boy’s father, Floyd, an administrative attache to the Zimbabwean Mission to the United Nations brutalized the boy.

Weinstein has ruled that because of Karamba’s diplomatic status, the boy should be turned over to the State Department for return to Zimbabwean mission.

But attorneys for the city Human Resources Administration and Legal Aid Society said that transfer will result in his being returned to the southern African country against his will. They said the boy needs counseling to make the transition easier.

″He is terrified of going back to Zimbabwe,″ Legal Aid lawyer Henry Weintraub told the judges.

Weintraub said the boy has been under tremendous psychological stress and had attempted to jump from a moving car and from a second floor window to avoid returning home.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Igou Allbray argued that ″Zimbabwe is angry and frustrated and has accused this country of kidnapping the child.″

When the appeals judges expressed doubt the boy could win political asylum here, Weintraub countered that the diplomatic fight with Zimbabwe was ″causing that country great embarrassment.″ The attorney said the boy has ″a very real fear of political persecution.″

Karamba, who was not prosecuted for child abuse, returned to Zimbabwe Dec. 28. His wife and two daughters, ages 3 and 6, remain here but are expected to return to Zimbabwe shortly, said Legal Aid attorney Elizabeth Johanns.

The boy’s injuries included ″whipping scars all over his body″ and ″pieces of skin missing,″ said Robert F. Wayburn, an HRA attorney.

″The issue here, your honors, is strictly one of diplomatic immunity,″ Allbray told the appeals judges. ″It’s as if this child never left Zimbabwe.″

Winter countered: ″Diplomatic immunity is a shield, not a sword. No one is suing the child.″

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