Mother of daughters sent back to Italy 'is afraid to visit them'
THE mother of four girls taken kicking and screaming from her side as part of an international custody battle has no immediate plans to fly to Italy to visit them, despite her daughters being ordered there by a judge.
Australian Federal Police officers took the girls from an undisclosed Sunshine Coast home on Wednesday night. One of the girls yelled ''leave me'' and another ''no, you're going to hurt me''.
At Brisbane International Airport, the emotional scenes continued as the girls, aged between nine and 15, struggled with AFP officers who were trying to escort them on a Dubai-bound plane en route to Italy. Their mother could be heard screaming, ''I love you, baby.''
Anguish ... the mother of the girls reaches out. Photo: Seven News
The mother of the girls said she found out from media reports that two of her daughters did not leave Australia on Wednesday night.
The maternal great-grandmother of the girls said the international custody battle was ''not over'', but added their mother was too scared to fly to Italy and had no money for a trip.
''I'm pretty darn sure she will not go back because she knows what waits for her,'' she said. ''First of all, she's a university student so she has no money whatsoever. I have none; I'm a pensioner. Her mother has none. If she [the girl's mother] went back to Italy she would have absolutely no money at all, she would have nowhere to stay, every person in the village has been poisoned against her.''
Separation ... one of four sisters sent back to Italy resists being taken. Photo: Seven News
Earlier on Wednesday, a family court judge ordered the sisters return to Italy ''as soon as possible''. Justice Colin Forrest took six days to consider his judgment, having previously said he was conscious of the court's obligations under the Hague Convention to make a prompt decision. Justice Forrest ordered the children be returned to the care of a Department of Communities officer who would accompany them to Italy.
His decision followed an application from the mother to have the return order discharged last week. It follows five months of legal wrangling. The children were due to fly back to Italy in May. They refused to go and their family went public with their story. The children then went on the run with their great-grandmother.
They were found and placed into foster care until concerns for their emotional wellbeing saw them returned to the temporary custody of their mother on the Sunshine Coast.
The girls have not been forced to travel to Italy to live with their father, as reported in some sections of the media, but rather to have the case heard under Italian jurisdiction. The father sought their return under the Hague Convention, which requires signatory countries to arrange to return children who have been ''wrongfully removed'' from their country of primary residence. In May, the president of the Family Law Practitioners Association of Queensland, Deborah Awyzio, said as a signatory to the Hague Convention, Australia must show ''a respect for other countries' laws, to avoid people taking matters into their own hands and deciding which country's law suits them the best for their particular situation''.
The girls' mother, who according to court documents met her husband during a study tour in Italy at age 16 and married him at 17, had moved out of the couple's family villa in 2007 after the death of their third daughter.
Under a ''consensual separation agreement'', the pair shared custody of their remaining four children until the mother brought them to Australia, purportedly on holiday, in June 2010. Their father invoked the Hague Convention, an international treaty against child abduction.