A six-year-old girl has won a landmark decision that will force the United States to release her back to Italy, where she was kidnapped by her mother in 2013.
The child had been flown to the U.S. in 2010 with her mother, Nicola Cucinotta, after her father, Sebastiano Calabrese, demanded custody of their daughter, Maria. A court ruled in the court’s favor in 2012, but Calabrese took the decision to keep Maria in Italy before the issue could be heard again.
Arrested and jailed, Calabrese pleaded guilty to child abduction, handed down a seven-year sentence and was deported to Italy in 2016.
Meanwhile, lawyers for the U.S. Embassy argued that the case should be revisited, arguing that Maria, now 6, should be allowed to stay in the United States.
“Because of the position that Italy holds against the U.S., the United States has absolutely no assurance that it will be able to give Maria her rights in the future as a child, mother and citizen of the United States,” the embassy argued.
Judges in a Milan court on Tuesday ruled that Maria’s home country must be re-evaluated before the United States can remove her from the country.
“The repatriation requires a new evaluation in Italy which she (Maria) is entitled to have before being transferred to a new country,” Judge Oreste Grasso wrote in the ruling.
Calabrese said he was “delighted” by the ruling.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.