A month-long nightmare ended Wednesday for Arianaïs Alezra when she was reunited with her two-year-old son Gaspar. Following a court order, officers from Ecuador’s National Bureau of Crimes (DINASED) had seized the child from his father earlier in the day.
Alezra, who is French, had traveled to Ecuador from Paris in late February so Gaspar could visit his father Andrés Bruzzone, an Ecuadorian, in Guayaquil. On March 7, however, Bruzzone refused to return the child to Alezra, claiming she was an unfit mother.
The next day, Bruzzone began legal proceedings to obtain custody of Gaspard. He also requested a protection order for the child, which was granted by Guayaquil Judge José Chiriboga.
With legal assistance of the French embassy, Alezra countered, claiming that Chiriboga’s order was illegal, and that the taking of Gaspar was a kidnapping. On March 11, Judge Cruz Muguerza agreed and issued an order forbidding Bruzzone from leaving the country until the issues was resolved in court.
The case became more complicated two weeks later when Chiriboga ordered Gaspar placed in the custody of his paternal grandparents, based on Bruzzone’s allegations of child abuse. According to court records, Alezra, who ended her relationship with Bruzzone in 2013, was not notified of Chiiriboga’s hearing, a violation of Ecuadorian law according to her attorneys.
In Alezra’s appeal, Judge Marien Segura, reversed Chiriboga’s decision and ordered that Gaspard be returned to his mother. A judicial review board then found that Judge Chiriboga acted outside of the law and ordered him temporarily removed from the bench.
Both Alezra and Bruzzone mounted furious social media campaigns during legal proceedings, Alezra, backed by international human rights groups, claiming that Gaspar was the victim of a kidnapping, Bruzzone claiming that Alezra led a “libertine” lifestyle and was a “terrible mother.”
In announcing the reunion of Alezra and Gaspar, Ecuador Interior Minster José Serrano said that justice had been served and praised the work of DINASED officers but released no more information.