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Justice Department Issues Ultimatum to Attorneys for Florida Relatives of Elian GonzalezAired March 24, 2000 - 10:20 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We have just received some developments in the Elian Gonzalez case. We now have CNN's Susan Candiotti on the telephone from Miami.
Susan, what happened?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. Well, the latest is that the Justice Department, after making a series of proposals and there were counterproposals today, in order to try to reunite 6-year- old Elian Gonzalez with his father -- the Justice Department this evening has sent a new letter to the attorneys for the Florida relatives of Elian Gonzalez, telling them more, in so many words, they have one more chance to comply with an order from a federal judge issued earlier this week that says that the little boy and his father should be reunited.
And what has happened this evening is that the Justice Department is telling the attorneys that they will go along with a way to expedite the appeals process. They will go along with a counterproposal by the attorneys representing Elian Gonzalez to submit legal briefs by April 3.
Now they are telling the attorneys that if they do not go along with this, that the boy, according to sources, the boy will have his temporary parole status revoked by next Thursday, and along those lines, if this is the case, they will ask the boy to be brought in to meet with U.S. government authorities by next Tuesday, if that's the case.
So we are now waiting to hear from the attorneys. I spoke with a couple of them, the legal team representing the Florida relatives this evening, and they are indicating that they are reviewing what the Justice Department has to say. And of course the attorneys acknowledge that the last thing they want to do is to cause any more trauma to the child. At the same time, they feel as if the Justice Department has been unfair in trying to speed up this appeals process a little faster than they think it should go along.
LIN: Susan, so does that mean that it's possible if the family does not move quickly enough in their appeals process, that Elian Gonzalez may be returned to Cuba by the end of next week?
CANDIOTTI: Well, it's difficult to say how long all after this would take, Carol, to actually play out. At the very least, if the attorneys for the Florida relatives could don't go along with the what the government is proposing, you might call it an ultimatum to agree to speed up filing briefs before the 11th circuit court of appeals, that they could get that process moving to reunite father and son by next week. As to exactly when it would actually happen, it's impossible to say at this time.
LIN: And, Susan, reuniting the father and son, does that mean taking Elian back to Cuba, or does that mean bringing his father to the United States?
CANDIOTTI: Again, good question. The father has said for quite some time that he would be willing to come to the United States, but only if the government could assure the father that his son would be presented to him when he came to the United States. So all of those details have yet to be worked out.
LIN: All right, and it looks like it may be played out throughout next week.
Thank you very much, Susan, reporting live from Miami.
NEWSSTAND will be right back with more of our Oscar special.
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