A Spanish judge on Monday extended the detention of a British couple arrested for taking their seriously ill son out of a hospital in England without medical consent, as sympathy for their situation grew at home.
Brett and Naghemeh King sparked an international search after removing five-year-old Ashya, who has a brain tumor, from hospital last week over their fears that he was not receiving the right care.
The couple were detained on a European arrest warrant near Malaga in southern Spain on Saturday and their son, who only recently underwent surgery and requires special feeding equipment, has been hospitalized in southern Spain.
At a hearing at the High Court in Madrid, the Kings refused to agree to their extradition back to Britain and were ordered to be held in custody for up to 72 hours pending a decision on whether they should be granted bail.
The judge also ordered an urgent medical report into the condition of Ashya, who has a medulloblastoma tumor.
The boy is currently being treated at a nearby children’s hospital and is said to be in a stable condition.
In Britain, public concern for Ashya’s immediate health has shifted to sympathy for the family’s plight as well as anger, particularly on social media, at their pursuit by police.
Police had warned that Ashya’s life was in danger if he was not in hospital, but his father and one of his brothers insisted in videos posted to YouTube that he is being cared for properly.
The Hampshire, England, member of the European parliament said the parents should be released immediately to be with their child.
However, Hampshire police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes defended efforts to bring Ashya home.
“I think if Hampshire Constabulary had ignored the professional medical advice and opinion, then they would have been negligent in their responsibilities to safeguard Ashya in this case and young children in general,” Hayes told BBC radio.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who lost his six-year-old disabled son Ivan in 2009, said the priority should be to ensure that Ashya receives the most appropriate medical care.
“Of course, I am sure that every parent wants to do the best for their child. That is probably the most human of human instincts,” a spokesman for Cameron said.
Ashya’s father wants his son to undergo proton beam therapy, an alternative to radiotherapy treatment, which Britain’s state-run National Health Service (NHS) would not provide.
The family was hoping to sell their apartment in Malaga to raise funds for the therapy, which is available in the US and the Czech Republic, their lawyer said.
“The parents are going to start lawsuits in the UK against the doctors and the hospital that slandered them, and they will make a complaint for false accusations and defamation,” King family lawyer Juan Isidro Fernandez Diaz said.
The hospital in Southampton, southern England, that was treating Ashya said it had offered the family access to a second opinion on his treatment and offered to help with organizing treatment abroad.
However, in a video filmed shortly before his arrest, King, 51, said he was threatened with losing access to his son if he continued to criticize the care provided.
Following the family’s flight, the local authority obtained temporary wardship of Ashya — giving them legal powers over his care — and ordered that he “be presented for medical treatment.”