Italy sisters cry for help

DISTRAUGHT: Federal Police remove four girls and send them back to Italy.
DISTRAUGHT: Federal Police remove four girls and send them back to Italy. Cade Mooney

TWO of four Sunshine Coast sisters at the centre of an international custody battle have made a public dash for freedom at their father's home in Italy.

The girls ran screaming from the Florence villa, clinging to the heavy iron gate and begging for an Australian news crew to take them away on Saturday afternoon.

The father had to forcefully restrain and carry one of the screaming girls inside, while the other sister clung to the outside of the gate until a social worker and police arrived.

Nine News captured the heart-breaking scenes where one of the girls begged a reporter to take her back to Australia.

"All of a sudden, the two sisters came sprinting across the front yard. They were in hysterics followed closely by their father," the reporter Sophie Walsh said yesterday.

"At one point, one of the girls grabbed on to my arm, she looked me in the eye and she had tears rolling down her face.

"She said, 'Please, you cannot leave me here. You have to take me away with you'."

The sisters, aged nine to 15, were separated from their Sunshine Coast-based mother last Wednesday after a tearful separation at Brisbane International Airport.

They were flown back to Italy the next day on two separate flights after the Family Court ordered they should live with their father.

The bitter custody battle began when their mother brought the sisters to Australia for a holiday in 2010 and never returned.

The girls' family in Australia is preparing to lodge an official complaint over the actions of the Australian Federal Police, who were seen in media photographs and video apparently man-handling the girls and restraining them in handcuffs on the ground to remove them from their Mountain Creek home.

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