MADRID – The British parents arrested for taking their ill son Ashya King from hospital looked forward to being reunited with him after being freed from jail in Spain on Tuesday.
“We’ll go as soon as possible to see my son. We have been dying to see his face for so long,” Ashya’s father Brett King, 51, told reporters as he and his wife Naghemeh King, 45, left the Soto del Real prison north of Madrid.
A Spanish judge ordered their release after British prosecutors withdrew an extradition order for the couple in a case that prompted an outpouring of public support for them in Britain.
The pair were free to leave Madrid and be reunited with their son, who has a brain tumour and is being treated in a hospital in Malaga, southern Spain.
They were arrested in Spain under a European arrest warrant for taking five-year-old Ashya out of hospital in England after disagreeing with doctors over his cancer treatment.
Prosecutors had said they suspected the parents of “cruelty” but the British Crown Prosecution Service said on Tuesday it was withdrawing the warrant as Ashya had been properly looked after.
A Madrid judge promptly ordered the case to be shelved, judicial sources said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the news on his Twitter feed, saying: “It’s important this little boy gets treatment & the love of his family.”
Ashya’s parents took him out of a hospital in Southampton, southern England, last week, in search of alternative treatment for Ashya.
The Kings are planning to sell their apartment in Malaga to fund proton beam therapy, an alternative to radiotherapy, for Ashya, according to their Spanish lawyer Juan Isidro Fernandez Diaz.
After the family left Britain with their seven children, police applied for an arrest warrant over fears that the condition of Ashya, who has undergone surgery and has to be fed through a special piece of equipment, could deteriorate.
Situation ‘not right’
The parents were detained on Saturday but the case prompted an outcry in Britain, where some 130,000 people signed a petition calling for the boy to be reunited with his parents.
Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it was “not appropriate” to “throw the full force of the law” at Ashya’s parents for their actions.
The chief of police in Hampshire, the force which originally applied for the arrest warrant, said that all involved needed to ask what was best for Ashya.
“It is my view as Chief Constable that the situation today is not right,” said Andy Marsh in a statement.
“Irrespective of what has happened it is our view that Ashya needs both medical treatment and for his parents to be at his side.”
Simon Hayes, Hampshire’s police commissioner, raised questions about the information from the hospital which led to the application for an arrest warrant in the first place.
“In light of today’s announcement by the CPS, I now need to be assured as to the quality of the information given by Southampton General Hospital to Hampshire Constabulary,” he said. â€“ AFP