MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Mexican judge returned a long-missing teenager to her U.S. mother Friday, ending the woman’s eight-year search and a cross-border custody case in which another girl was mistakenly sent to Texas against her will.
Alondra Diaz, 13, and Houston resident Dorotea Garcia emerged from the courthouse together under heavy police guard following the afternoon ruling in Los Reyes, a town in the southwestern state of Michoacan. The previous day, DNA tests confirmed her identity.
Clad in jeans, a turquoise T-shirt and matching backpack, Alondra climbed into the backseat of a police van with her beaming mother and the two embraced. They did not comment publicly, but Judge Cinthia Elodia Mercado called the case closed.
“The recovery of a minor by an applicant mother has happened,” Mercado said. “This is over.”
Alondra Diaz was taken to Mexico in 2007 by her father, Reynaldo Diaz, without her mother’s consent, and her whereabouts had not been known until recently. Garcia has indicated that she would drop legal complaints against the father if she got custody.
The case gained international attention last month after Mercado erroneously ruled that 14-year-old Alondra Luna was the missing girl and ordered her turned over to Garcia.
Video recordings circulated widely of Alondra Luna screaming and desperately resisting as police dragged her away. DNA testing performed after the girl was taken to the United States showed she was not Garcia’s daughter, and she returned to her real family in Guanajuato.
With a media spotlight now on the case, Reynaldo Diaz delivered the real Alondra Diaz to family members who then presented her to authorities, saying she was prepared to go live with her mother.
Garcia had an emotional reunion with her daughter this week in a courtroom in Los Reyes.
In the case of the first girl, the judge denied requests by her and her family for DNA tests, saying it was not within her authority. This time Mercado waited for DNA confirmation.
The difference in treatment prompted Alondra Luna and her parents to travel to Los Reyes to stake out the courthouse Friday and demand an apology.
“We have been here since 9 a.m. and the judge does not want to see us, nor will she open the door, and she says that if we remain here she will call police to remove us,” said Susana Nunez, the girl’s mother. “We want to make it clear that my girl’s rights were trampled.”
Nunez said the family intended to file formal complaints next week but wanted to meet face-to-face with Mercado first to express their displeasure.
“I see this as a kidnapping that was ordered by the judge,” the girl’s father, Gustavo Luna, said.
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