The Brazilian grandfather of Sean Goldman, a 10-year-old boy from the U.S. who was the center of a bitter international custody dispute, has died, hospital officials and family members said Tuesday.
Raimundo Carneiro Ribeiro Filho died of lung cancer Monday night at the age of 65, said Lima de Amorim, a spokesman for Rio de Janeiro's Copa D'Or Hospital.
Ribeiro Filho's widow lamented that he never got to see his grandson again after Goldman was returned to his U.S. father in late 2009. Last month, a New Jersey state Superior Court ruling denied the grandparents permission to visit the boy in the United States.
"Because of a cowardly and unjust decision, my husband died with immense sorrow in his soul," Silvana Bianchi told Globo TV's G1 website.
"He never stopped believing that he would see his grandson again," Bianchi said. "The thing he wanted most was to see him for the last time, but that wasn't possible."
Goldman, who was born in the United States, was brought to Brazil in 2004 by his mother, Bruna Bianchi, for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation.
Instead she stayed in her native country, divorced Sean's father, and remarried. The father, David Goldman, began legal efforts to get his son back.
After Bianchi died in 2008 in childbirth, her Brazilian husband, Joao Paulo Lins e Silva, a prominent divorce attorney in Rio de Janeiro, won temporary custody.
Despite numerous court findings in favor of Goldman, Lins e Silva was able to delay relinquishing custody until December 2009, when the Brazilian Supreme Court ordered that Sean be handed over to his father, ending the five-year custody battle.
Father and son were reunited on Christmas Eve and returned to the United States the same day.
David Goldman's Brazilian attorney, Ricardo Zamariola Junior, said by telephone that it was unlikely Sean would be at his grandfather's funeral because it was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. He did not provide further details.