WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court today denied a request by Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez for visits with him or for an outside guardian. The court accepted instead the government's offer of regular reports from a psychiatrist and a social worker.
In a brief order, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta denied a series of requests from the 6-year-old Cuban boy's great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez, whose family cared for Elian for five months until federal agents returned him to his father on Saturday.
The 11th Circuit continued its order barring Elian from any site in this country that has diplomatic immunity - a move designed to keep him out of the custody of Cuban diplomats.
On Tuesday, the Miami relatives had asked the court, which is now weighing whether to reinstate a claim of political asylum they filed on Elian's behalf, for a series of orders giving them access to Elian now that he is staying with his father, stepmother and half brother at a rural Maryland retreat.
The relatives asked that they, their attorneys and their doctors be given ``regular and reasonable access to him'' until the court rules on the appeal, or that the court name an outside guardian to look after him during that time.
The 11th Circuit denied all those requests.
``The government has offered to supply the court with biweekly reports from a psychiatrist, retained by the government to monitor and examine'' the boy, and from a social worker, to be hired to monitor his care, the court said. ``The court accepts these offers.''
Justice Department officials, who had opposed the relatives' moves, were pleased but did not immediately comment.
Earlier today, Attorney General Janet Reno said the agents who seized Elian Gonzalez had to have a ``show of force, not a use of force, to show we were in control.'' And the psychiatrist who examined the 6-year-old Cuban boy for the government said it's likely he suffered no lasting harm from the armed raid.