Madonna too busy to attend Malawi adoption ruling

Tue May 13, 2008 2:39pm EDT
 
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By Mabvuto Banda

LILONGWE, Malawi (Reuters) - U.S. pop star Madonna will not attend the final court ruling on her request to adopt a Malawian child because she is busy with other engagements, her lawyer said on Tuesday.

The High Court is expected to approve Madonna's bid to formally adopt 2-year-old David Banda at a final session on Thursday. Malawi's government and David's father -- his only surviving parent -- have endorsed the adoption.

"We are going to court on Thursday, but Madonna will not be there because she is not coming," Madonna's lawyer, Alan Chinula told Reuters. "The judge has indicated that he cannot object to her being absent when making the ruling."

Chinula said Madonna had "other engagements," which he declined to disclose.

A court clerk said Madonna's lawyer has asked for a later court date -- the singer's third request for a postponement -- because their client "had other business matters to deal with." He confirmed the judge could go ahead without her.

The adoption has been controversial, with critics accusing the government of skirting laws that ban non-residents from adopting children in Malawi, a southern African nation ravaged by an AIDS epidemic that has left more than 1 million orphans.

But one of Malawi's fiercest critics of Madonna's adoption bid, the Human Rights Consultative Committee, said on Monday it was no longer interested in pursuing the case, removing another obstacle.

Madonna began adoption proceedings in 2006, and David has been living with the singer and her husband, film director Guy Ritchie, in their London home since then. She took custody of David when he was 13 months old after his father had placed him in an orphanage following the death of his wife.

David's father, Yohane Banda, told Reuters Television this week, "This is what I wanted, that Madonna should keep the child."

Reuters/Nielsen