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David Banda comes home

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

London (Reuters): The one-year-old Malawian boy Madonna is seeking to adopt arrived in Britain today, witnesses said. David Banda flew via Johannesburg from Malawi overnight with one of the US pop star's bodyguards and her personal assistant and arrived at London's Heathrow airport at around 1100 IST. Malawian authorities earlier waived local rules to grant Madonna and her British film director husband, Guy Ritchie, an interim adoption, prompting charges from human rights groups that the star used her status to bypass normal adoption rules.

Witnesses said they saw the baby being carried off the flight by the female assistant, accompanied by a male bodyguard. Banda was then whisked away from the airport in a silver Mercedes car. Banda, who is leaving behind his father Yohane, will swap his home in a dilapidated orphanage near the Zambian border for a life of luxury in London with one of the world's most famous couples and their two children. The boy's mother died after she gave birth to him, according to media reports.

Malawian law bans adoptions by non-residents, but officials are granting an exemption to Madonna. ''Madonna and her husband ... have been granted an interim adoption of baby David by the courts in Malawi. He was issued a passport and a visa was granted earlier today which allows him to travel outside of Malawi,'' Madonna's New York publicist said in a statement late yesterday. ''This interim adoption grants David's new parents temporary custody for 18 months.'' Madonna, 48, is hoping to make David a brother to her nine-year-old daughter Lourdes, and her son, Rocco, who is five. In addition to two homes in Britain, the singer also has a home in Beverly Hills in the United States.

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