Wed, Feb 11, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Iruan to set off for Brazil, finally

CUSTODY FARCE Iruan leaves today, but critics were scathing about the child's treatment throughout the ordeal, with the media and the Wu family prime culprits

By Jimmy Chuang and Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Iruan Ergui Wu is held by Chinese Nationalist Party Legislator Lin Yi-shih, right, as he leaves the Kaohsiung District Court while Brazil Business Center Director Paulo Pinto asks journalists to lower their voices early yesterday morning.

PHOTO: AFP

The Taiwanese-Brazilian boy Iruan Ergui Wu (吳憶樺) will leave for his new Brazilian home at 12:50pm today.

The Brazil Business Center said the eight-year-old boy will be accompanied by center Director Paulo Pinto, his wife, a bilingual Taiwanese assistant, Wu's aunt Lee Su-hua (李素華), Wu's teacher Hsu Ming-na (徐明娜) and the family's lawyer, Wu Chiu-li (吳秋麗).

The group will board a China Airlines flight in Kaohsiung and fly direct to Hong Kong before trans-ferring for a flight via Johannesburg, South Africa to Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The National Police Administration's Aviation Police Bureau said the group would be accompanied by a team of police officers to the airport because of the possibility that a large crowd would see them off.

"There may well be a big gathering, including the Wu family and other relatives, friends and reporters. We will therefore send more officers to the location in case they are needed," said Wang Tiao-huang (王調煌), chief of the criminal investigation section at the bureau's Kaohsiung office.

The transfer of Iruan from the family to authorities was finalized by the Kaohsiung District Court early yesterday. Kaohsiung judges Huang Kuo-chuan (黃國川) and Liao Cheng-hsiung (廖正雄) escorted Iruan and Lee to the Kaohsiung District Court at midnight.

The judges then handed the boy to Pinto, representing Iruan's grandmother, Rosa Ergui. But while leaving the court, an apparently sleeping Iruan was carried by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yi-shih (林益世), who has offered the Wu family support during the custody battle.

Pinto, Iruan, Lee and the other parties then checked in at the Ambassador Hotel in Kaohsiung, where they stayed again last night. No flight for Brazil was available before today.

Children's groups yesterday expressed dismay over the way the police and media handled the case on Monday, but reserved particular criticism for the Wu family, after the nation watched extended coverage of Iruan's forcible removal by police surrounded by a scrum of reporters, TV cameras and family members and supporters.

"This kind of ending is the one that brings about the most harm to the child," said Alicea Wang (王育敏), executive director of the Child Welfare League Foundation.

"Members of the public are blaming the justice system over the incident, but it is actually the Wu family that needs to take the blame," Wang said.

"Everyone acted cruelly toward the child, but the child was the most innocent party. The adults only found out that they were making mistakes after things went wrong," she said.

Wang argued that the court had given the Wu family plenty of time to hand Iruan over to authorities, including delaying Wu's return to Brazil until after the Lunar New Year holidays, then after a farewell party was held and group photos taken.

The Wu family, however, continued to act obstructively until the last minute, defying the judge and standing up the Brazilian representative, she said.

"What could a child think about such a display of dishonesty? This is not love for a child -- it's inflicting pain on a child." Wang said.

Wang said that after Wu arrived here in 2001, the media had been his constant companion as he grew up, recording his movements on many occasions.

But, she said, media coverage had been superficial. Providing a balanced study of Iruan's perspective on things had been of no interest to reporters.

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