WASHINGTON -- After two months in America and three court rulings in his favor, Juan Miguel Gonzalez again asked Miami relatives to stop the legal dueling that has kept his 6-year-old son Elian from going home to Cuba.
There was little indication the family would oblige. It appeared Elian was going to spend at least another three weeks in the United States.
Speaking Thursday just hours after a three-judge federal appeals court panel in Atlanta sided with him in the lengthy custody battle, Gonzalez said, ''A child simply should be with his parents, always with his parents.
''As the father, I should be speaking on behalf of my son,'' he said through an interpreter.
His lawyer, Gregory Craig, said that after Thursday's ruling, there was ''no longer any doubt'' that Gonzalez would eventually win the case in which the relatives are seeking asylum for Elian.
''It is now time to end this chapter of Elian's life and let this family go in peace,'' he told reporters while standing with Gonzalez in front of his Washington law office.
Craig noted that Miami relatives who took Elian into their home after he was rescued from the Atlantic Ocean have said they are concerned about Elian and that they love him.
''Their love and their concern are best expressed today by calling a halt to this legal battle,'' he said.
Craig said today that Gonzalez would allow the Miami relatives to see Elian ''under certain circumstances.''
''The way they should go about trying to see Elian is just approach the father. They have even yet to approach the father,'' Craig said on NBC's ''Today.''
Family lawyer Spencer Eig, also on NBC, said, ''I'd be very happy to discuss it with Mr. Craig right now.'' But, he added, ''The demand that the family drop its appeal -- that the family not do what it thinks is right to protect Elian's future as a precondition for a visit -- well, that's just inhumane.''
Another attorney for the relatives, Kendall Coffey, said they hadn't decided their next move. But he asked Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who handles emergency matters for Florida in the Supreme Court, ''to assure that Elian will remain in the United States'' until the full Supreme Court can consider a formal appeal he said he would file within 10 days. Later Thursday, the lawyer asked Kennedy to disregard, at least temporarily, the emergency request while the family considered its options.
Marisleysis Gonzalez, Elian's cousin who cared for him during his Miami stay, said she still believes Elian won't be returned to Cuba.
''I hope the laws of this country favor him and give him the opportunity to seek asylum,'' she said. She also hopes the courts will order Elian's father to allow her and her family to visit the boy.
About 100 protesters expressed their anguish over the court ruling while gathered outside the small home in Miami's Little Havana section where Elian stayed with his relatives.
''The Constitution is dead,'' said Roxana Rodriguez, a secretary. ''There is no justice. Democracy and freedom have been thrown to the trash.''
President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno welcomed the ruling.
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