Italian boy dragged from school by police
IT WAS a scene straight out of a low-budget horror movie. Three adults have got hold of a young boy, two of them by the hands and the other by the feet. The child is being forcibly dragged to a car, shouting, screaming and protesting hysterically.
The problem is that this was no movie. The 10-year-old boy in question, Leonardo, is at the centre of a bitter custody battle between his parents, a battle that was dramatically acted out at his primary school, near Padua, this week.
Leonardo’s parents separated three years ago and since then he has lived with his chemist mother and grandparents. Teachers and parents at his Padua school describe him as “serene”, good both in the classroom and on the sports field.
Recently, however, Leonardo’s mother, Ombretta Giglione, has not allowed him to spend time with his father. She claims this is because he mistreats Leonardo. However, the boy’s father says her decision is in contravention of their custody agreement.
Earlier this week Leonardo’s father opted to enforce a Venetian court ruling that gave him the right to place the boy for a year in state-run children’s home so that he could be cured or indeed “reprogrammed”.
According to Dr Rubens De Nicola of the Venice court, Leonardo has parental alienation syndrome vis-a-vis his father as a result of the constantly negative views articulated by his mother.
Having twice tried and failed to remove the boy from Ms Giglione’s home, the father, social services workers and police opted for a different tactic this week, going directly to his school.
The only problem was that their hamfisted “sequester” of the child was filmed by Leonardo’s aunt, who passed on the footage to state broadcaster RAI.
As a result, both the deputy interior minister, Carlo De Stefano, and the head of police, Antonio Manganelli, yesterday found themselves explaining why a 10-year-old child was treated like a Mafia godfather on the run, forcibly bundled into a car by police in front of his terrified classmates.
Leonardo is currently in the children’s home, where he is visited by his father but not, as yet, by his mother.