Sisters at the centre of a custody battle talk to 60 Minutes.

Sisters at the centre of a custody battle talk to 60 Minutes. Photo: Supplied: 60 Minutes

Three years ago, they were filmed kicking and screaming as Australian Federal Police removed them from their mother. But the Vincenti sisters, who were forcibly sent to Italy to be with their father, have now revealed they are happy living with him overseas. 

There was a widespread outcry when footage of the four sisters being forcibly taken from the Sunshine Coast home of Australian woman Laura Garrett to live with their father was aired in 2012.

The sisters – aged just nine to 15 years old at the time – were shown kicking and screaming as AFP officers dragged them from their mother's home and forced them on to a plane.

Emily and Claire with 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown in Italy.

Emily and Claire with 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown in Italy. Photo: Supplied: 60 Minutes

Born and raised in Italy, the girls had been at the centre of a custody battle since their mother brought them to Australia in 2010.

In a 60 Minutes interview due to air on Sunday, the two eldest sisters, Emily and Claire, aged now 16 and 17, described what it was like to be wrenched from their mother.

"That night, they came all of a sudden and took us away and it was traumatising… I didn't want to get on the plane. It's the truth, I didn't want to go back to Italy," Emily told Channel Nine.

Claire said she believed her mother had taken them from Italy because she wanted to return home.

"I just think [at] that point mum wanted to return home. That's why she did it I think," she said.

The picture of the two girls seemingly happy and settled living in a village near Florence is a stark contrast to the traumatic scenes from when they first arrived and pleaded to return to Australia.


Ms Garrett raised nearly $10,000 in online donations to  get her girls back after the case went public.

The girls' parents met when Ms Garrett was an exchange student in Italy. Her host family were the parents of Tomaso Vincenti, the girl's father.

The pair married and had four girls, but in 2007, when the youngest daughter was only four years old, the couple split.

Under Italian law, both parents were granted joint custody.

However, in 2010, Ms Garrett took the four girls back to Australia, telling their father she wanted to take them for a holiday for a month.

Ms Garrett reportedly told the Australian embassy she was fleeing an abusive husband.

The four daughters remained in Queensland for two years while their father fought to bring them back to Italy.

 

Now, according to the Channel Nine program, the girls are attending school, planning to study at university and have Italian boyfriends in Florence.  

According to the show, the four Vincenti sisters had not seen their mother since they were removed but Ms Garrett has subsequently visited them in Italy when 60 Minutes went to film the story.

The exclusive interview with the Italian sisters on Channel Nine.
 


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