NEW YORK — A Zimbabwean diplomat bound and beat his 9-year-old son and forced the boy's mother and sisters to ridicule the boy as he was whipped with belts and electrical cords, according to a government report.
A federal appeals court today heard arguments on whether the child should be turned over to his government or allowed to stay in the United States temporarily, but the panel reserved decision.
City officials placed Terrence Karamba in foster care last month after his elementary school teachers in Queens noticed suspicious scars and injuries.
Social services officials have claimed the boy was repeatedly beaten by his father, Floyd Karamba, an attache at the Zimbabwe Mission to the United Nations.
Karamba, who was not prosecuted because of diplomatic immunity, left the country Dec. 28 and Zimbabwean officials have sought the boy's return to their custody.
But the Legal Aid Society claims the boy is in a fragile psychological state and should be allowed to stay in a Long Island foster home pending the outcome of an immigration hearing.
A federal judge in Brooklyn previously ruled that state courts had no jurisdiction over the boy because of his father's diplomatic status. The judge ordered that Terrence be turned over to the State Department for return to Zimbabwe's U.N. Mission.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, however, delayed the boy's transfer Monday after Legal Aid claimed it would result in his being returned to the African nation against his will.
The State Department wants the boy returned to his homeland with assurances from Zimbabwean officials that he will be safe there, department spokesman Charles E. Redman said Wednesday.
Redman said that under international laws governing diplomatic immunity, neither the courts nor New York state authorities have any claim to jurisdiction over the boy.
According to a psychological evaluation of the boy, included in the government's court papers, the child described "how his four limbs would be tightly secured and he would then be whipped by his father who used belts and electrical cords."
The report stated that the boy's mother and two sisters "were forced to witness the beatings and to ridicule him in the process."