A Granada woman has been handed a five year jail term for child abduction after going into hiding with her two sons, now aged 12 and four years.  Juana Rivas had accused her estranged Italian husband of abuse and had refused to obey a court order to hand the children into his custody.  She has also been ordered to pay him compensation of €30,000.

Women’s groups and politicians have been critical of the sentence which also removes custody rights for six years and instructs her to pay court costs.  She said last year, “A woman running away from terror to protect her children can’t be classed as abduction.”

“A woman running away from terror to protect her children can’t be classed as abduction.”

The case began in 2016 when she removed them from the family home in Italy and brought them to Spain on the pretext of visiting her family in the Granada town of Maracena.  However, once on Spanish soil, she alleged domestic abuse and ignored a Spanish court order to return the boys to their father.

Eventually, she gave herself up to police and was arrested, while the children were taken back to Italy on the orders of a Granada court, despite evidence that her former partner, Francesco Arcur, has been convicted of violence against her.

However, with her sentence not to be implemented until confirmed, and with an Italian court stipulating she could not meet her sons on Spanish territory, Juana Rivas was allowed to travel to Italy last month to spend two weeks with her children at a campsite on Isola di San Pietro, an island seven kilometres off southern Sardinia.

The court in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, is expected to give a definitive ruling on custody arrangements by the end of September.  Over 258,000 people signed a petition sent to the Justice Ministry in Madrid last month demanding she be pardoned