The latest salvo in a five-year effort to get Nico Brann back in the U.S. from Brazil took a major step forward Monday morning.
Inside a federal courtroom, grandparents Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes faced a federal judge.
The couple is accused of orchestrating an international kidnapping that took Nico from his father, Dr. Chris Brann of Houston, five years ago. Nico has been living with his mother, Brann's ex-wife, in Brazil ever since.
"You folks have only heard one side of this thing. These people are not guilty of kidnapping," said famed Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, who is representing the grandfather, Carlos, in this case.
From Houston to Brazil: How a family's international kidnapping case unfolded
Hardin and attorney Jimmy Ardoin, representing the grandmother Jemima, are expected to ask for bond during a lengthy hearing on Wednesday.
Cameras are not allowed inside federal courtrooms, but today's brief hearing was emotional. Dressed in green with hands and feet shackled, the Guimaraes' adult son was visibly shaken seeing his parents in court.
"This is incredibly difficult. You're talking about two people, grandparents, 67 years old, been in custody now for two weeks," said Hardin. "You were in the courtroom, look at them, are they any threat?"
For Chris Brann, the answer is yes. Brann alleges his ex-wife took their son when he was just 3 to a wedding in Brazil and never returned. He has been fighting to get Nico back ever since.
Brann says if the couple is released, he will have no leverage and may never see his son again.
FATHER AT CENTER OF KIDNAPPING CASE SPEAKS OUT
"My only intention is to get Nico back, and five years is a long time for my son not to have his father in his life, and it's always been my primary objective," said Brann.
The doctor, accompanied by his mother and second wife, says his former in-laws are wealthy and well-traveled. He points out hiring of a powerful attorney like Hardin shows they have all the resources to leave if granted bond.
"Obviously they have unlimited resources, abilities, they navigate international countries very easily. There is no doubt in my mind if they were given bond, I would never see my son again," Brann said.
Both sides will present their case in front of the judge this Wednesday. The hearing is expected to last several hours.
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