Russia seeks termination of parental rights for U.S. adoptive couple

Russia’s chief investigator said on Tuesday that the U.S. adoptive parents of a Russian child who died of injuries in 2009 should be deprived of parental rights to their second adopted child.

A Pennsylvania court ruled on November 18 that Michael and Nanette Craver, found guilty of the involuntarily manslaughter of their adopted Russian son, Ivan, must serve from 16 months to four years. The couple had already spent about 18 months in jail so they were released immediately.

The Russian Investigative Committee deemed the U.S. sentence too lenient and demanded further investigation.

RIC chief Alexander Bastrykin sent letters to Russian presidential human rights council head Mikhail Fedotov and human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin to initiate proceedings to strip the Cravers of parental rights with respect to Ivan’s sister, Dasha.

It is important to ensure Dasha’s early return to Russia, Bastrykin wrote.

An Investigation Committee spokesman, Vladimir Markin, said Russia would continue efforts to seek bring the Cravers to justice, even after a Moscow court refused to approve the arrest in absentia.

“The refusal of a Russian court to arrest the Cravers in absentia will not hinder further investigation of the criminal case in Russia, as well as the international efforts to find the suspects, detain and extradite them,” Markin said.

He said that though international laws prohibit a second sentence for the same crime, it applies only to legal procedures in one state, within the national jurisdiction.

Seven-year-old Nathaniel Craver (Ivan Skorobogatov) died in August 2009 at a hospital in Pennsylvania. Doctors said the boy died of injuries and malnutrition. They discovered more than 80 injuries on his body, including 20 on his head.

The Cravers were arrested in February 2010 and denied all the charges brought against them, saying the boy suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome and attachment disorders. The couple’s defense said his injuries were self-inflicted.

Prosecutors demanded the death sentence for the couple. The jury however found them partially guilty, dismissing the charges of the deliberate murder of the boy.

The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed the sentence, calling it “flagrant irresponsibility” of the U.S. judicial system.

Since 1991, a total of 17 adopted Russian children have died worldwide as a result of beatings or negligence, according to official Russian statistics.

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