‘Let me go, I want my mum!’ Four girls are dragged kicking and screaming on to aeroplane in Australia after judge rules they must return to father in Italy
Disturbing scenes showing four girls being dragged kicking and screaming on to a plane in Brisbane to be sent back to their Italian father caused outrage across Australia today.
The sisters, aged between nine and 15, were ordered by a judge in Australia to be returned to their father in Italy, despite the children’s wishes to stay in Queensland with their mother.
The girls’ mother, who was married to an Italian, had taken them to Australia from Italy for a holiday two years ago – and then kept them in the country.
Kicking and screaming: A girl is dragged on to a plane in Brisbane after a judge in Australia ruled that she and her three sisters must return to their father in Italy
A bitter international fight ensued between the parents, resulting in an Australian judge ruling the sisters must be returned to their father.
Despite staying in hiding, the girls were finally collected by Australian police and security officers last night and driven to Brisbane airport – where passengers stared in shock as the girls screamed and struggled to break away from their escorts.
Up to a dozen federal officers in suits were present as the four sisters were dragged to an airport lounge to await boarding on an Emirates flight, but they were determined not to go without a fight.
‘Let me go, I want my mum, I want my mum,’ one of the younger girls – they cannot be identified because they are minors – cried as federal officers held onto her arms.
All girls cried out to their escorts to let them return to their home in Australia and complained the officers were hurting their arms. But the police were determined the girls would be sent home, one officer telling a girl: ‘Now, you’re going to get back on the plane.’
Passengers stared at the scenes of the sisters struggling with police, many saying that the incident was ‘awful…terrible.’
Awful’: One of the younger girls cried ‘Let me go, I want my mum, I want my mum’ as federal officers held on to their arms
Displaced: The girls, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, were brought to Australia from Italy for a holiday two years ago by their mother, who then kept them in the country
The Courier Mail newspaper reported that it had learned the mother of the girls clung in desperation to the rear of an Australian Federal Police car as it drove away with three of the sisters from a house where they had been staying.
She collapsed in the road sobbing at the end of what was described as a day of unfathomable anxiety and stress.
For weeks the girls, who have joint Australian and Italian citizenship, had remained in hiding with their great-grandmother after a court ordered they should be returned to their father in Italy.
A close friend of the girls’ mother told the paper that the prospect of being returned to Italy against their wishes had made the girls anxious and withdrawn in recent days.
‘What do you expect from little kids being taken away from their mum?’ said the friend. ‘The whole thing is unfair.’
The father had insisted in court battles that the children should be returned to Italy under the provisions of the Hague Convention, an international treaty against child abduction.
Justice Colin Forrest found in the Australian Family Court last year that while he did not absolutely accept ‘the truthfulness of all of the evidence deposed to by the father’, he was satisfied the father did not consent to the children’s relocation.
As Australians expressed their anger and dismay on social media, leading radio commentator Neil Mitchell said on his morning show in Melbourne that sending the children back to Italy amid the distressing scenes was ‘cruel, unreasonable and absurd’.
Referring to the children being dragged kicking and screaming to an aircraft to be sent home to a father they did not want to live with after their mother had collapsed in the street, he said all this was happening because of the law.
‘If you’re a parent, this is disturbing stuff,’ he said. ‘I don’t doubt the judge is correct under the law, but we are talking here about children – is there no room for common sense?’