Italian dad goes on the run with American son

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Maurizio Rigamonti and his son Leo went missing on January 3rd. Photo: Lisa Williams/Flickr
10:55 CET+01:00
An Italian man has gone missing with his eight-year-old son, who is at the centre of a custody battle with his American mother. In a YouTube video released by the father on Wednesday, the boy claims he was threatened by his mother to "say bad things" about his father.

Maurizio Rigamonti and his son Leo went missing from the centrial Italian city of Parma on January 3rd, La Repubblica reported.

Authorities began a Europe-wide search for the pair when the boy’s American mother, Laura Carder, went to the police after she went to collect her son and discovered the two were missing.

The boy’s paternal grandfather on January 9th claimed the pair had gone to Trentino, in northern Italy, for a skiing holiday, although Carder believes Rigamonti may have fled to Spain with their son.

Nearly two weeks into the search, Rigamonti on Wednesday released a video on YouTube which he described as “Leo’s spontaneous statements”.

In the video, the child says: “You may think that my dad is bad, but it’s the opposite, my mum is bad”.

Repeatedly prompted by Rigamonti, the boy says that during a recent court appearance his mother “threatened me to say tons of bad things about my dad”.

The accusations are the latest twist in a four-year custody battle, which began when the family were living in the US, La Repubblica said.

After the couple separated, a Los Angeles court ruled that Carder had to return to Italy with the boy, where he had been born. Carder launched an unsuccessful appeal, an online petition and a website in a bid to keep the boy in the US.

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She claims on the website that Leo underwent years of therapy to recover from alleged domestic abuse by Rigamonti. When asked about his therapist by his father, Leo tells YouTube viewers: “She is stupid, she threatens me to say things as well - bad [things] about my dad. I hate her”. 

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