Brain tumour boy 'stable' as parents face court

2014-08-31 20:21
Ashya King

Ashya King

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Madrid - A five-year-old British boy with a brain tumour who was taken from hospital without medical consent is in a "stable condition" in Spain, hospital staff said on Sunday.

The boy's parents were arrested on Saturday evening in southern Spain following an international manhunt.

Brett King, 51, and Naghemeh King, 45, will appear before a judge in Madrid on Monday, a judicial source told AFP.

Meanwhile, their son Ashya was said to be "in a stable condition and under police guard" in the paediatric oncology department at the Regional University Hospital in Malaga, a spokesperson for the hospital told AFP on Sunday.

A police spokesperson said earlier that "the child is receiving hospital care, the parents are in detention", adding that the couple's five other children are staying in an undisclosed location and being looked after by the adults among them.

Ashya King was removed from a hospital in Southampton in southern England on Thursday, sparking an immediate search for the boy's parents.

Interpol issued a global alert on Friday to its 190 member countries, dramatically ratcheting up the hunt.

The parents were eventually tracked down to a guesthouse called Hostal Esperanza on the Costa del Sol, around 30km from Malaga in southern Spain, after they were recognised by an employee.

"It's my colleague that alerted the police," an employee at the hostel told AFP by telephone. "She had seen them on an online newspaper."

Authorities in Britain, France and Spain have been racing against the clock to locate Ashya, who was operated on just one week ago and requires feeding through a nasal tube and a machine, raising fears that it could run out of batteries.

'Very happy'

Ashya's father, Brett King, appeared in a video posted online on Saturday in which he attempted to alleviate concerns about his son's health.

"As you can see, there's nothing wrong with him," he said in the video posted to YouTube on Saturday by one of the other children.

"He's very happy since we took him out of hospital, he's been smiling a lot more."

The video shows Ashya sitting on his father's knees and hooked up to the feeding machine.

King says he pulled his son out of hospital because he was upset with the care he was receiving, and wanted to seek different treatments abroad that were not offered by the British public healthcare system.

He does not explain in the video why the family chose to travel to Spain, but police had earlier indicated the family had "strong links" to the area.

"There are no winners in this situation. I've said all along that this must be a terribly distressing time for Ashya's family and I stand by that now," said Chris Shead from Britain's Hampshire police.

He said the arrest warrant was based around "neglect" but added: "That does not necessarily mean they would be charged with that offence.

"It purely gives us the power to arrest and then we'll be able to speak to them."

King's parents, who are Jehovah's Witnesses, were seen boarding a ferry to Cherbourg in France after taking the boy.

On the Hampshire police's Facebook page, one poster, Katie Fletcher, wrote: "This is my mother's friend, she has run away in desperation because they cannot accept that there is nothing that can be done for their son and want to look for help abroad.

"Please don't judge, they are a very sweet loving family and I can only believe they are doing this because they want to help their son."

The boy's paternal grandmother, Patricia King, described her son and his wife as "marvellous" parents.

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