Aunt claims girls were abducted
THE Italian aunt of the four Sunshine Coast girls at the centre of a complex custody dispute says there is a "big family waiting for them with open arms" in Italy.
The aunt, using a specially created Facebook page, said the girls' father "until two years ago shared every moment of your life".
"Be confident in your dad's sake," she said.
The woman started the Facebook page, "Four hidden sisters", the day after the girls disappeared with their great grandmother to avoid complying with a Family Court order that they return to Italy with their father.
"The girls have definitely been hidden by her mother, we want to find (them), help," it reads.
In broken English the aunt argues the mother "who is an Australian-born citizen abducted these Italian-born citizens who habitually reside in Italy with both parents".
"(They) were taken without consent of the father to Australia permanently to live. This was a crime perpetrated by the mother," the Facebook page says.
Both sides of the family have been using social media to publicise their thoughts.
The girls' Australian aunty's Facebook page, Kids without Voices, has more than 6000 followers.
The case took a dramatic twist after the discovery of the girls at a Buderim home late on Monday night.
Maroochydore police were tipped off as to the girls' whereabouts and they were taken into the care of the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Communities.
Maroochydore Acting Inspector Darren Edwards said the girls were "very compliant" when they were found.
The mother and aunts arranged two court cases to stop the girls from being sent on a plane back to Italy with their father.
The father's lawyer, Giovanni Porta, told the Daily before the High Court case that there was nothing legally preventing the father from taking the girls back to their place of birth.
The mother's lawyer, Greta King, argued before the Family Court at 2pm that the application to return to Italy should be stayed.
She said it was their understanding the girls were already at the airport.
This was refuted by Department of Communities representatives.
The judge decided he could not make a ruling until after the High Court had made its determination.
This case was heard 30 minutes later with barrister Tony Morris, SC, representing the girls' Australian great aunt.
He argued the girls had been denied natural justice because they had not been heard or represented throughout their legal battle.
Mr Morris cited a 1996 court case where two children were represented in court proceedings.
However the Department of Communities barrister Gim Del Villar said Federal Parliament legislation had changed and he said he would put forward an application to have Mr Morris's application to have the case heard dismissed.
Mr Del Villar said the father had agreed the children would not be taken home until the matter was finalised.
The High Court matter will be mentioned again on Friday.
- January 27 - mum and dad separate in Italy
- November 2008 - mum and dad enter into consent orders in Italy for children to live with mum and spend weekend's with dad
- July 2010 - mum travels to Australia, she says with father's consent to live permanently, he says for a four week holiday
- February, 18 2011 - application made under the Hague Convention for the return of the children to Italy
- June, 23 2011 - decision is made for children to be returned
- September, 5 2011 - mother's appeal against decision heard by full court of the Family Court
- March 9, 2012 - court decides children must be returned to Italy
- Early May, 2012 - mum told children must be taken to airport on May 15 for return to Italy
- May 14, 2012 - children disappear with great grandmother
- May 16, 2012 - mum's legal bid to have the case reconsidered fails, judge orders aunt, gran and great-gran to appear in court
- May 18, 2012 - great gran defies court order, case postponed till May 23
- May 21, 2012 - police find children at Buderim address
- May 22, 2012 - family court and high court appearances to challenge court decisions. Case postponed till Friday.