US & Canada

Cuba to turn over 'kidnapping parents' to US

Cuban authorities say they will turn over a US couple accused of kidnapping their two sons from their grandparents and fleeing to Cuba by boat.

A foreign ministry official did not say when the handover of Joshua and Sharyn Hakken, and their sons, would happen.

US authorities say Mr Hakken took Cole, four, and Chase, two, from his mother-in-law's Florida home after she was awarded custody of them last week.

Mr Hakken lost custody after being charged with marijuana possession.

He allegedly also tried to remove the children from a foster home at gunpoint, police said.

Cuban co-operation

The family had been staying in their boat at the Hemingway Marina near the Cuban capital Havana.

Mr Hakken is wanted in the US for two counts of kidnapping, interfering with child custody, child neglect, false imprisonment and other charges.

Officials at Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in Florida said Mr Hakken had tied up his mother-in-law in her house in Tampa before fleeing with the two boys.

Cuba does not have an extradition treaty with the US and is not a signatory to the international treaty, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

But in recent years Cuba has co-operated with the US and returned fugitives wanted on criminal charges.

In 1999, tensions flared between the Cold War rivals amid the custody battle over five-year-old Elian Gonzalez.

He was found hanging on to the inner tube of a tyre off the coast of Florida, after his mother and other relatives perished while fleeing Cuba for the US.

He was taken to live with relatives in Miami, but his father in Cuba demanded he be returned.

He was eventually sent back to Cuba in 2000 and, now a young man, has joined a military academy.

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