The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

April 10, 2013

US couple in jail after fleeing to Cuba with kids

(Continued)

The family's flight to Cuba harkened back to the 1999 child custody case involving Elian Gonzalez, though unlike Gonzalez, the Hakkens had no apparent ties to the island.

In 1999, 5-year-old Gonzalez was found clinging to an inner tube off Florida after his mother and others drowned while fleeing Cuba toward American soil. The boy was taken to Miami to live with relatives, but his father in Cuba demanded the boy be sent back.

U.S. courts ultimately ruled Gonzalez should be sent back, though his Miami relatives refused to return him. In April 2000, U.S. federal agents raided the family's home and he was returned to Cuba soon after. He has since grown into a young man and joined a military academy.

_____

Associated Press writers Christine Armario, Curt Anderson and Kelli Kennedy in Miami; Kevin McGill in New Orleans; Paul Haven and Peter Orsi in Havana; and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

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