Sisters separated on flight

UPDATE 7.20PM: Two of four sisters ordered by a court back to Italy were expected to be put on a flight late tonight.

The grandmother of the two eldest girls, aged 14 and 15, told the Daily they had been detained in a location near Brisbane International Airport on Wednesday evening.

It was originally thought they left the country with their two younger sisters on an Emirates Flight bound for Rome. 

However it was later reported they were taken off the flight by federal police. The pilot reportedly refused to take them because of the commotion they were causing.

3.30PM UPDATE: NEW video taken by neighbours has revealed the terror and anger of the four girls seized by federal police on Wednesday night.

 A female police officer can be heard to tell one of the girls to stay on the ground.

"You are being taken into custody,'' the federal officer tells the screaming girl.

"Don't kick you are under arrest. We are police,'' the officer says.

"No. No. No. Leave me alone,'' the girl screams.

"You are going with us,'' the officers can be heard to stay.

Contrary to earlier reports, the Daily now understands there were two female officers among about 10 police who raided the Mountain Creek home of the girls after a Federal Court order.

"Let me go, let me go. Please let me go,'' one of the girls is heard to scream in the darkness.

"You are hurting me.''

A male officer is then heard to say that he is not hurting the girl.

Another girl is sobbing incessantly, begging to stay.

"I am staying here. Let me go.

"Please, please let me go.''

"Stand up,'' one of the police is heard to say.

"Stop hurting me.''

"We are not hurting you at all,'' the male officer replies.

The dramatic scenes, now making headlines around the world, have sparked fury from online bloggers and talkback radio callers.

The Daily has been inundanted with more than 300 comments on its website and Facebook Sunshine Coast site.

Many have condemned federal police for being over the top, while others have blasted the mother for making the whole case such a media event.

Those supporting the mother have questioned why the father did not seek to return the girls to Italy a lot earlier, before they had set up a new life on the Sunshine Coast.

All agree, the four girls should never have been put through the ordeal.
 

1.30PM UPDATE: The father involved in the international custody battle for his four children has been "torn apart" by the highly publicised process.

Following the decision to send the girls back to Italy, the father's lawyer, Paul Donnelly, spoke about the impact the tug-of-war had on his client.

"It has been really upsetting for him," he said this afternoon.

"It's really torn him up.

"He is frustrated with the length of time it has taken, he is frustrated at having to keep quiet in the press so he is not misquoted as he does not converse properly in English.

"It's really been for him heart-breaking and now he is just relieved to have his children back."

As the case played out this year, accusations were published in the media the father was abusive towards his four daughters in Italy.

But Mr Donnelly titled the claims "blatant" lies.

"He has been painted as being a monster and he is not," he said.

"At the very beginning of the case he was probably seen as the awkward Italian but at the end, he has turned into some sort of vicious monster who bashes his children. It's just terrible."

The NSW-based lawyer took on the case pro bono but said the process, including travelling between countries and staying in Australia, had left the father without a cent.

"He has no money left," he said.

"When I took the matter on to go to the High Court he was flat broke. I haven't received a cent from him and nor shall I."

The four sisters are expected to return to the hometown they grew up in just outside of Florence in Italy.

"Mum can go with girls to Italy'

There is nothing preventing the mother of four girls dramatically deported last night from spending time with her daughters in Italy, counsel for the father has confirmed.

Lawyer Paul Donnelly told Channel 7's Sunrise this morning the mother had equal parenting rights as the father.

"So there is nothing to prevent the mother from having equal time with the children in Italy," he said.

But the Family Court heard on Wednesday afternoon the mother had no intention of returning.

Justice Colin Forrest said the mother feared she would be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned if she returned to the birthplace of her children.

"Having informed the children of her concerns about those things, it is hardly surprising that such factors add strength to their objections to returning to Italy," he said.

Justice Forrest said evidence in the case suggested the girls did indeed love their father, "even though they might be very unhappy with him for insisting they return to Italy."

As a result, the father took an undertaking to drop any criminal complaints against the mother and not pursue the matter further.

Mr Donnelly said his client had no intention of taking any action against his ex-wife.

He said when the girls' first arrived in Australia they were quite happy to return to Italy.

The comments came after dramatic scenes unfolded on the Sunshine Coast last night as Australian Federal Police officers took the girls from their mother and put them on a flight to Italy.

Despite the girls' obvious objection to leaving their mother, Justice Forrest said there was nothing stopping the mother from going to Italy to face custody proceedings.

"I have regard to the fact that proceedings between the parents about the appropriate parenting arrangements in respect of these children can take place in the Italian courts and could result in orders that permit the mother to relocate the girls to Australia," he said.

But if the mother did not return to Italy, that was her choice, Justice Forrest added.
 

Federal police raid on girls 'sickening' say witnesses

WITNESSES described the actions of federal police in a raid on a Sunshine Coast home last night as "appalling", "sickening" and "the most inhumane thing I've ever seen".

About 10 officers in two cars swooped on a home in Mountain Creek about 6.40pm, and arrested four girls.

The sisters are at the centre of an international custody battle between their mother and their Italian father.

A court yesterday ordered them to be sent back to Italy.

Stunned and upset neighbours said the girls, who were begging to be left alone, were manhandled during the raid.

One was face down on the ground at one stage, with two police officers holding her by the wrists, they said.

"You're hurting me, you're hurting me - please let me go," she said.

The distraught girls pleaded with bystanders to help them but police sternly warned them not to intervene.

The girls were bundled into the vehicles and driven away.

Their crying mother, with her hands on a side window, chased one of the cars as it drove away down the road.

She was left on her knees in the street.

Neighbours helped her as she walked back in her home. The incident lasted more than 30 minutes.

The police did not tell the mother where the girls were being taken.

 

Federal police seize one of the girls at the centre of an international custody dispute on the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday night. Image: Seven News
Federal police seize one of the girls at the centre of an international custody dispute on the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday night. Image: Seven News

Police seized one of the girls from her Sunshine Coast last night. Image: Seven News

The Family Court  issued a warrant authorising Australian Federal Police to retrieve  the girls and deliver them to child services.

The girls have been at the centre of a tug-of-war international custody battle for months as they fought to stay in Australia where they have lived for the past four years.

The family made a last-ditch attempt last week to have an order they return to Italy overturned.

A lawyer for the Child Safety Department argued the order should not be overturned in fairness to every other family who had to abide by the Hague Convention, an agreement surrounding children's international movements.

Justice Colin Forrest on Wednesday dismissed their mother's application to have an order the girls return to Italy discharged.

He ordered the girls be returned to the care of the Community Services Department and an official accompany the girls back to Italy.

 

Federal police remove one of the girls involved in the international custody dispute last night.
Federal police remove one of the girls involved in the international custody dispute last night.

One of the sisters is taken to a car by federal  police. Picture: Sunshine Coast Daily

Justice Forest also ordered the Italian father make an undertaking to withdraw any criminal complaints made in Italy against the mother and not make one in the future.He said he hoped the mother return to Italy to go through custody proceedings.

The girls' mother sobbed as she wrote down the Sunshine Coast address so police could collect the girls, aged nine to 14.

A Community Services Department lawyer said he understood every effort would be made to immediately return the children to their father in Italy.

The mother also asked to have a few days to assess the judge's orders and investigate further steps she could take.

But Justice Colin Forrest said all matters relating to the children's movement now rested with the department, the father and the mother.

The four girls moved to Australia with their mother in 2010 under the guide of a holiday.

Topics:  custody dispute, italian, sisters



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