Chapter closes on public custody battle that divided Spain

A Spanish mother at the heart of a bruising public custody battle agreed Monday to hand her sons over to her ex-partner, closing a case that has sparked fierce debate in Spain.

Chapter closes on public custody battle that divided Spain
Juana Rivas reacts outside the Court of Granada last week after she was provisionally released without bail. Photo: AFP

Juana Rivas accuses her ex-partner of domestic violence and after running away last year from Italy where they lived with their boys, aged 11 and three, she refused to let him see them.

When a court ordered her to hand them over to her Italian ex-partner, Francesco Arcuri, in July, she went into hiding for one month with her children, before turning herself in last week to a court in the southern city of Granada.   

She was released but ordered to hand the kids over by Monday, which she did, according to a spokeswoman for the central government's representative office in Granada.

“She handed them over to the Guardia Civil (police force),” she said, without giving further details.

Spanish media said that Arcuri would come to fetch the children later on Monday. He is now able to take them back to Italy.  

In a July interview with Italy's Ansa news agency, Arcuri, who was found guilty of abusing Rivas in 2009, denied any violence.  

“I want to be able to hold my children again in my arms, I haven't seen them since last year,” he said.

Rivas's plight sparked a vivid debate in Spain, where the struggle against domestic violence is a top government priority.    

While some supported her, others criticised her for breaking the law.    

“I find it crazy that she hands over the kids to an abuser, I hope the judge won't come to repent what he has done,” tweeted @palomaanaunica.  

“#JuanaRivasARV has opened her eyes and realising she may go to prison, she handed over the children,” retorted @enavicens, using the trending Twitter hashtag on the case.

“But she will have to be tried for what she did.”



Spain issues warning as child hand sanitizer poisoning cases spike

The number of children treated in Spain for accidental poisonings after ingesting hand sanitising gels has soared during the pandemic, the government said Wednesday, urging parents to keep the products out of reach.

Spain issues warning as child hand sanitizer poisoning cases spike
Photos: AFP

There have been 874 reported cases of intoxications from hand sanitising gels so far this year, compared to just 90 during all of 2019, the National Toxicological and Forensic Sciences Institute, a unit of the justice ministry, said in a statement.   

Two-thirds of the cases involved children, especially those under the age of two. The vast majority swallowed the hand-sanitiser although some became intoxicated after getting the product in their eyes or inhaling it.


No fatalities have been reported and over 80 percent the poisoning victims recovered “in a short time”, the institute said.   

The most common symptoms were, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, blurred vision and red eyes.

In a video message posted on Twitter, Justice Minister Juan Carlos Campo called the figures “alarming” and urged parents to “keep hand-sanitising gels out of reach of children and insist that its use to disinfect hands always be supervised by an adult”.

Como ministro de Justicia, pero también como padre, me preocupan los datos de intoxicaciones por gel hidroalcohólico en niños que ha difundido hoy el @INTCFjusticia. Mantengamos estos productos fuera del alcance de los más pequeños. Protejámonos, protejámosles.

— Juan Carlos Campo (@Jccampm) October 14, 2020

As in other European countries, used of hand-sanitising gels has soared in Spain to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The country has become of the pandemic's hotspots in the European Union, with close to 910,000 registered cases and over 33,000 deaths.

READ ALSO: What happens when there is a Covid-19 outbreak at a school in Spain?