Snowmass man’s girls in U.S. from Argentina after custody fight (video) |

Snowmass man’s girls in U.S. from Argentina after custody fight (video)

Veronica Whitney
El Montañés editor
Ana Alianelli
Colleen O’Neil / Post Independent |

The daughters of a Snowmass man who have been the focus of a years-long international custody battle are back in the United States.

“The girls are doing great and so happy,” Dennis Burns posted Friday on a Facebook page dedicated to the return of his daughters Victoria, 8, and Sophia, 6, to the United States.

Burns, of Snowmass Village, arrived in Houston on Thursday with the girls.

They were taken in September 2010 by their mother to her native Argentina without Burns’ permission. A Garfield County judge had named Burns the primary residential parent after a contentious divorce and custody battle.

Burns and the girls had been expected to arrive in Aspen on Friday, but snow closed the airport for a time and a Facebook message indicated they would not arrive Friday.


Burns, with daughters, is attacked in the Buenos Aires airport, from Argentine TV:

After fighting for his kids more than four years in the courts in Argentina and backed by the Hague Convention Treaty on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a judge in Argentina ordered that the children had to come back to the United States, where they lived before their mother, Ana Alianelli, took them.

Alianelli had a conference with a judge Friday in Glenwood Springs, telling reporters as she left the Garfield County Courthouse that she didn’t know why the judge had taken her children from her. She then left, saying she wasn’t emotionally prepared to talk more. A court clerk said the conference was continued and no orders were issued.

The last days in Argentina were contentious for Burns, who had to confront Alianelli’s accusations of domestic violence on TV. The media in Argentina seemed misinformed on the details of the case.

It all ended Wednesday at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires with a dramatic scene in which the girls’ friends bid an emotional farewell to them, TV cameras were stuck in front of their faces and his father was physically attacked by Alianelli’s brother.

“The girls were traumatized, screaming and slightly hurt by Javier’s inconsideration in attacking me from behind while I had two little girls in my grasp,” Burns said on Facebook. “Someone also grabbed Sophia away from me in the brutal and criminal episode. The police quickly recovered her and we made it into safety of customs. All this despite a Supreme Court order from his own country.”

The girls were accompanied by Alianelli during the flight back to the United States. When they arrived in Houston, they were separated because Alianelli apparently was delayed by immigration authorities and Burns had to go to the hospital to check on an injury after the altercation with Alianelli’s brother.

The media reported in Argentina that Burns “had disappeared with the kids,” and the story made the rounds on TV and local newspapers. Alianelli and her family said that she was in Aspen and had no idea where her daughters were.

To clarify the situation, Burns, who didn’t return a call for this story, also posted on Facebook Friday: “Had to go to the hospital in Houston for X-rays due to pains in my neck and back when we landed. Customs called the courts in Colorado and said the girls must accompany me to the hospital. Ana went on to Aspen. We will be there as soon as possible.”

A photo of Victoria and Sophia smiling on Facebook was accompanied by another posting by Burns: “We are having a much fun together. I feel so blessed to be able to be with them despite the emotional past 24 hours or so.”


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