On July 26, Juana Rivas, a mother of two from the southern town of Maracena (Granada, Andalusia), immersed in an international custody battle over her two children with their Italian father, absconded with her offspring after being ordered by a court to hand them over.
She disappeared for nearly a month and chat shows and news bulletins across the country wondered where they were or what the merits of the case might be. Ms. Rivas benefited from the vociferous support of left-wing politicians and feminists.
Her core argument is that Mr. Arcuri is culpable of domestic abuse and that it would therefore be remiss of her to hand over her children.
He was sentenced by a families court in Italy in 2009 to three months for hitting Ms. Rivas, but now claims he never did so and that he only accepted the sentence to be able to keep seeing their son.
After a split, Ms. Rivas and Mr. Arcuri got back together and had a second child in 2013.
In Spain, local courts, families courts, appeals courts and even the Constitutional Court have all so far ruled in favour of the children's father, Francesco Arcuri, declaring it is up to Italian courts to decide on the question of custody, because that is where they last resided when Ms. Rivas left and returned to Spain last year.
Last Tuesday, August 22, she came out of hiding to reappear before the court. The duty judge—the regular judge was still on holiday—ordered her arrested, briefly, but then released her on bail. She did not tell the court where the children were, but made sure to tell the waiting TV cameras that "I'm not going to jail. I am going home with my children to keep fighting".
The court withdrew the children's passports, though, and said they must not be allowed to leave the Schengen Area.
On Friday, August 25, the regular judge took charge of the situation and ordered her to hand them over by 5 p.m. today, Monday, August 28.
"At no time during her appearance", wrote the judge in her decision, a copy of which has been obtained by The Spain Report: "did Ms. Rivas explain where she had hidden the children".
The judge also ordered that her advisor, her psychologist and her relatives "to the second degree"—aunts, uncles, nephews, grandparents, etc.—all be investigated on charges of inciting or being accomplices to child abduction.
Published: 1:57 pm, Aug 28 2017 (link)
Juana Rivas Hands Over Children, Government Confirms
The central government representative's office in Granada confirmed to The Spain Report on Monday that Juana Rivas had handed over her children to the Civil Guard on Monday morning, hours before a court deadline ordering her to do so.
A spokeswoman said she was not aware of the details of the handover beyond confirming that the children were now being looked after by the Civil Guard; she could not provide any information about when they will be returned to their father.