For the second time in two weeks, a Kenyan judge presiding over the case of an orphaned boy—forcibly taken from his legal guardians—didn't show up to an emergency hearing.
American citizens Matt and Daisy Mazzoncini are the legal guardians of three-year-old Kiano. They had hoped Thursday's hearing would result in being reunited with the child and being offered an explanation as to why he was taken.
Instead, four sentences on a single sheet of paper taped to the door of the courthouse announced the judge was "away on official duties."
The Mazzoncinis left feeling dejected.
"They are grieving and following the court process so when they have their day in court the truth is heard," said Jason Koenig, a close friend of the couple.
Matt and Daisy originally had hoped to adopt Kiano, an orphan entrusted to their care before they became his legal guardians in early 2017. However, a temporary ban on international adoptions made legal guardianship their only option.
They have spent thousands of dollars on Kiano's medical expenses – treating problems with his breathing, pneumonia, malnutrition, and epilepsy – and countless hours and energy pouring into his overall developmental well-being since he was about six months old.
"We obviously love Kiano like he is a birth child. He's the child that God gave us and that we love so much," Daisy told CBN News in a phone interview after the raid at their apartment in Nairobi, Kenya.
On April 5, 2019, about a dozen plainclothes officers with an extension of Kenya's national police service unexpectedly bombarded their home and took the child without presenting an official order or offering any explanation.
According to Kenyan media, the couple was accused of being child traffickers by a state agency known as the Child Welfare Society of Kenya. Those reports indicate CWSK said the boy is healthy and claims the Mazzoncinis falsified his medical records even though he's been seen by several Kenyan doctors and his case has been reviewed by a specialist in Tennessee.
The couple has not seen Kiano in 36 days. They are worried about his safety and whether he is being given his epilepsy medication which must be administered three times daily.
"The child is said to be safe and secure. We still don't believe that, and we'll only believe that when the child appears for court," their attorney, James Singh, told CBN News.
The case has sparked outrage and prompted protests outside of the courthouse Thursday.
While the judge was a no-show, a crowd of singing supporters spilled into the street in front of the Milimani Law Courts building. Video shows dozens of men and women raising their voices and waving "Free Kiano" signs as a show of solidarity with the Kenyan boy.
Other signs read: "Kiano's Rights are Human Rights" and "Reunite Kiano with his Family."
"The social media outrage about what is happening to Kiano will not stop until Kiano is reunited with his family and the law is upheld," said Koenig, who described Matt as his best friend.
Koenig is using his influence as a film director to publicize the family's plight, even enlisting the help of friends in the entertainment industry to highlight the #BringKianoHome campaign. Both Ed Sheeran and pop artist Macklemore shared Koenig's post on Instagram and Twitter.
— Jason Koenig (@jkoephoto) April 23, 2019
He told CBN News he prays for Kiano, Daisy, and Matt daily but would like to do more, motivated by the couple's determination to keep fighting.
"What would you do for your best friend if they were being harassed, intimidated, falsely accused of child trafficking and then their kid was kidnapped?" he asked. "I have to do everything I can to make sure the truth comes out."
The emergency hearing has been rescheduled for Tuesday, May 14th.