Cittadella

Italian child hauled out of school in bitter custody battle

Police chief 'regrets' the event, caught on tape

Italian child hauled out of school in bitter custody battle

(ANSA) - Cittadella, October 11 - A video of police hauling a 10-year-old boy out of school kicking and screaming has caused an outrage in Italy where the parents of the child are engaged in a bitter custody battle. Footage of the scene, which hit national airwaves late Wednesday, showed two plain-clothes officers forcibly picking up the boy named Leonardo, one by his shoulders and the other by his ankles, and taking him away as he screamed for his aunt who was filming. The event took place in the northern Italian town of Cittadella, outside Padua. A court in Venice had ordered that the boy be turned over to the custody of his father. Child-protection officers said they had repeatedly attempted to pick up the boy at his mother's home but she and her family would not hand him over. The mother and several parents from the school held a protest in front of the school Thursday telling police to "free" the boy. "The way our little boy was taken away is inhumane," said the tearful mother. In response, Italy's national police chief told ANSA he had "profound regret" for the way things were handled and ordered an internal investigation. "We will work with utmost rigor in the internal investigation," said Antonio Manganelli. In response to the media storm, Italy's national media watchdog warned outlets not to gratuitously play the video "for the health and dignity of the boy". He was taken to a group home before his father reclaimed custody. "I saved my son and now he's fine, calm. That's what's important," said the father. "I ate lunch, played Playstation and then had dinner with him and put him to bed. It had been years since I did that and it brought a beautiful emotion".

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