LONDON — The wrenching tale of a British boy with a brain tumor and his parents, who were arrested after fleeing the country with him to seek treatment abroad, entered a new phase Monday as the parents attended an extradition hearing in Madrid and refused to return to Britain.
The judge ordered Brett King, 51, and his wife, Naghemeh, 45, back into custody for a maximum of 72 hours pending further examination of their case, as well as a report from the hospital in Malaga, Spain, where their 5-year-old son, Ashya, is being treated, according to reports in the Spanish media.
After being told that Ashya would not benefit from proton beam radiation therapy — a cancer treatment not available to brain tumor patients in Britain but sometimes paid for by the National Health Service abroad — the Kings took their son out of the hospital against doctors' orders Thursday. They left the country that day, taking Ashya and his six siblings along.
A European arrest warrant was then issued by the British police, on the grounds of parental neglect of Ashya. The family was arrested near Malaga on Saturday. Before the arrest, in a YouTube video of himself and Ashya, King denounced the police hunt as "ridiculous."
He said the family believed that proton beam treatment, despite what British doctors had told him, was the best available treatment for his son's condition, a cancer known as medulloblastoma. They went to Spain, King said, to sell an apartment they owned there to raise money for the treatment in the Czech Republic.
King said the treatment his son had received in Southampton had seemed to him like "trial and error."
The parents have not been charged with any crime in Spain. If British authorities proceed with a formal extradition request, a decision will be made by a different panel of Spanish judges but most likely not for several weeks.