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Australia- Iman officiates the marriage of a 12 year old child
Police charge imam believed to have overseen the ‘marriage’ between a 12-year-old girl to a 26-year-old man
The 26-year-old man with police / Picture: Craig GreenhillSource: News Limited
THE man who “married’’ a 12 year-old girl and a 26-year-old man in NSW earlier this year has been charged over his role in the ceremony.
An imam allegedly carried out the wedding in backyard at her father’s home in the Hunter Valley in January.
The 26-year-old has been charged with 25 counts of having sex with a child.
Late yesterday afternoon detectives from the Child Abuse Squad arrested a 35-year-old man outside Parramatta Police Station.
The man from Mayfield was interviewed by police before being charged with solemnisation of a marriage by an unauthorised person.
He was granted strict conditional bail to appear in Parramatta Local Court on April 2.
The religious leader had gone to ground since the arrest of the Lebanese man but it is understood Child Abuse Squad detectives leading the investigation have made contact with him.
Worshippers at the regional NSW mosque where the imam used to lead prayer services have told The Daily Telegraph he left about a month ago and had not been seen since.
It is not understood, however, if his departure came shortly before or after he conducted the “marriage” in the living room of the girl’s father’s Hunter Valley home on January 12.
The president of the local Islamic centre, who declined to be named, said the imam in question was “on leave” and it remained unknown whether he had in fact performed the “marriage”.
He said the mosque was completely unaware of the marriage and was co-operating fully with police.
“This investigation is very, very important,” the president said.
“What we need to know is whoever is involved, whoever these people are, should be brought to justice.
“We would not have approved it and I would have approached the authorities because this is illegal in most Muslim countries . . . this is not Australian law, this is not Sharia law.”
While he hoped detectives would find that it was not the mosque’s imam who carried out the marriage and the imam deserved “the benefit of the doubt”, he said “there’s no excuse for a religious person to do this act”.
The Lebanese man was refused bail on Friday after appearing in court charged with 25 counts of having sexual intercourse with a child.
Police are still investigating both the involvement of the imam and the father’s role in the case.
The girl is now in foster care.
Senior sources in the Islamic community said the imam who allegedly performed the “marriage” was paid a fee, but no documentation as to the validity of the ceremony was produced.
Documentation is not strictly required in Muslim weddings but it is in Australia for the NSW Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages to issue a certificate and recognise it by law.