U.S. News

Brazil says leave U.S. custody case to courts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A fight for custody of an 8-year-old boy whose American father says was abducted by his Brazilian mother will be left to Brazil’s courts, Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula de Silva said Saturday.

Brazil's President Ignacio 'Lula' Da Silva (L) and US President Barack Obama listen to reporters in the Oval Office after meeting at the White House in Washington, March 14, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

“The problem of the child is in the (Brazilian) federal justice system,” he told a Portuguese-language news conference at the Brazilian Embassy, despite pressure from Washington for Brazil’s government to intervene in the dispute.

“We expect the justice system to do what the justice system should do ... and the Brazilian government will respect it.”

New Jersey resident David Goldman has been fighting for custody of his son Sean since his then-wife took the boy on vacation to her native Brazil in 2004, then divorced him and stayed there in what Goldman says was a case of international child abduction.

Goldman’s ex-wife, Bruna Bianchi, died in childbirth last year. Her second husband, Joao Paulo Lins e Silva, is continuing the fight to keep Sean with his family in Brazil, in a case that has blown up into an irritant in relations between Washington and Latin America’s most powerful nation.

Local courts in Brazil have declined to Grant Goldman custody, despite Brazil and the United States being signatories to an international treaty aimed a curbing cases of child abduction by parents.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Brazil’s government last week to push for the boy’s return to Goldman and lawyers for the Brazilian family have said the U.S. ambassador pressed Brazil’s government to get involved in the case.

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives also overwhelmingly passed a resolution this week calling on Brazil’s government to return Sean.

When asked by a reporter whether President Barack Obama had raised the issue during a meeting between the two leaders on Saturday, Lula said only that Obama “had reiterated the U.S. position” on the dispute.

Brazil is Latin America’s biggest economy and an important regional trade and strategic partner for the United States.

Reporting by Paul Simao; Writing by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Peter Cooney