Parents of terminally ill boy freed

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iol pic wld Spain Britain Boy Brain Tumor~1 AP Brett and Naghemeh King, parents of Ashya, speak during a press conference in Sevilla, Spain. Picture: Miguel Angel Morenatti

Malaga, Spain -

The British parents arrested for taking their terminally-ill son Ashya King from hospital rushed to the five-year-old's bedside in southern Spain on Wednesday after walking free from jail.

“We are on our way to help my son,” Brett King said in his first public declaration since British prosecutors dropped extradition proceedings against him and his wife for taking Ashya, who has a brain tumour, without doctors' consent.

“We just want to show love to him because without that there is no purpose to life,” a visibly shaken King told reporters after he and Ashya's mother Naghemeh, 45, were freed in Madrid late Tuesday.

“When we were in prison there was no minute that went by without our hearts hurting to see Ashya,” Brett King told a news conference in the southern city of Seville.

“My wife spent most of the time crying in the cell.”

“He hasn't got too many months to live and we're locked away in a cell,” the 51-year-old father told reporters. “We are just trying to speed things up to help him.”

Ashya's parents headed afterwards for the coastal city of Malaga, where he is being treated in a children's hospital, to see him for the first time since their arrest on Saturday.

The couple were held under an international warrant for taking Ashya out of hospital in Southampton, southern England after disagreeing with doctors about his cancer treatment.

King said on Wednesday he believed the radiotherapy treatment planned by doctors in England would have turned Ashya into a “vegetable”.

“It is not the answer for a child of five. It is too strong for a child,” he said.

The Kings want Ashya to undergo an alternative treatment called proton beam therapy. Brett King said the family is selling its apartment in Malaga to fund the therapy.

“My son is worth everything, worth me going to prison. Everything,” he said.

Ashya's brother Danny told the BBC he had seen Ashya on Tuesday and that “physically he's fine but emotionally he's very confused” because he hasn't seen his parents.

The Kings' case prompted an outpouring of public support in Britain, where about 130 000 people signed a petition calling for the boy to be reunited with his parents.

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.

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.

British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed news that the case had been dropped, saying on his Twitter feed: “It's important this little boy gets treatment & the love of his family.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said it was “not appropriate” to “throw the full force of the law” at Ashya's parents.

The chief of police in Hampshire, the force which originally applied for the arrest warrant, acknowledged on Tuesday that “the situation today is not right”.

“Ashya needs both medical treatment and for his parents to be at his side,” said Simon Hayes, Hampshire's police commissioner, in a statement.

Brett King criticised doctors at the hospital in a video posted on YouTube before he was detained. He appeared in the footage holding Ashya, who was fitted with a feeding tube.

Danny King told the BBC the family had received information on possible treatment in the United States but he expected his parents would choose to take Ashya to a clinic in Prague for proton beam therapy. - Sapa-AFP



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