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Deported Roma girl's family bids return to France

Leonarda Dibrani in Mitrovica, Kosovo
Leonarda Dibrani in Mitrovica, Kosovo Reuters/Hazir Reka

The family of the Roma girl thrown out of France after being taken off a school bus has made a legal bid to return to France. Leonarda Dibrani and three of her siblings have made progress in education and found stability here, their lawyer argues.

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On Monday evening lawyer Brigitte Bertin applied to a court in the eastern city of Besançon for residency papers for Leonarda Dibrani's parents, Resat and Gemilja, and cancellation of the expulsion order issued on 19 June, which led to the family being deported to Kosovo on 9 October.

The Dibranis, who have seven children, four of whom are at school, arrived in France without residency papers on 26 January 2009 after living in Italy without papers for several years.

Their requests for asylum or legal residency were all rejected.

Their attempt to return to France, which follows a blaze of publicity over Leonarda's detention while on a school trip, is based on the argument that they found a degree of stability and integration into society in France that they had not found in Italy.

"The appeal points out that the children of the Dibrani family have made significant progress since their arrival in France nearly five years ago," Bertin said on Monday. "They are for more involved in education in France than they were in Italy."

The Dibranis' deportation grabbed headlines, sparking protests by school students and proving a serious political embarrassment for President François Hollande's government.

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