Girls not shielded from dispute

THE mother of four children fighting extradition to Italy neglected to shield her daughters from the a messy custody battle, a court has heard.

Family court consultant, Margaret Egan, interviewed the four girls, aged between 9 and 15, about the prospect of going back to Italy to live with their father.

The girls' mother is applying in the Family Court in Brisbane to have a order the girls be returned to Italy discharged.

In the family court today, Ms Eagan was cross-examined on a report she compiled on the girls' views.

She said the mother had not shielded the girls from the dispute, which began after the mother moved to Australia from Italy with the girls in 2010.

"They are quite emotional about it," Ms Egan said.

"My concern is that the mother's public campaign has caused the children to become active in the dispute and that is not positive."

But counsel for the mother, Dr Jacoba Brasch, argued the children had their own lawyer and had some say in initiating the court proceedings.

Counsel for the Communities Department, James Linklater-Steele, said the girls had spoken with their aunt a week prior to their interview with Ms Egan.

He said the same topics the aunt discussed with the girls were regurgitated in the interview.

The hearing continues. 

 

Adjournment Denied in custory case

AN application to adjourn the drawn out custody battle involving four Sunshine Coast girls and their Italian father has been rejected.

In the Family Court in Brisbane this morning, barrister for the girls' mother, Jacoba Brasch, applied to have the matter adjourned to allow the girls to be reinterviewed by a family court counsellor.

The highly-publicised battle is back before Justice Forrest in the Family Court after a High Court ruling.

The girls were recently interviewed by a family court consultant about whether they wanted to return to Italy and whether they understood the consequences.

But Dr Brasch argued the girls were not asked what they thought if they went back to Italy and were stuck there.

She said there was no evidence the girls were made aware that today's proceedings could be it.

"There is not sense in the report the girls wishes have been examined on the basis today maybe it, full stop," she said.

Dr Brasch said one of the girls had previously threatened self-harm if forced to return to Italy.

She stressed the importance of getting the girls' opinion on returning to Italy and being stuck there considering the threat.

But counsel for the Community Services Department, James Linklater-Steele, argued those questions had been posed.

Mr Linklater-Steele said the mothers attempt for an adjournment was only an appeal point generated with no substance.

"They want to subject these children to another round of interviews," he said.

The court heard the father of the girls had submitted a application in the Italian court in relation to custody proceedings but nothing had happened yet.

The court also heard the mother had no intention of returning to Italy.

Justice Forest said he was satisfied the family law consultant had ascertained the girls wishes on returning to Italy and the strength of their objections.

He said he was seriously concerned about the length of time the case had already spent in the Family Court and wished to delay it no further.

Dr Brasch will now argue that a order the girls be returned to Italy be overturned.



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