Claire and Emily Vincenti, two of the four Italian sisters at the centre of a custody battle talk to 60 Minutes. Photo: 60 Minutes
Claire and Emily Vincenti, two of the four Italian sisters at the centre of a custody battle talk to 60 Minutes. Photo: 60 Minutes

Sisters in custody row set record straight on their dad

THE Italian sisters who made headlines around the world after they were forcibly removed from their Sunshine Coast home now say their father is not the violent man they portrayed him at the time.

Claire and Emily Vincenti, now aged 17 and 16, say they are happy with their lives in Italy.

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They told 60 Minutes that despite the dramatic scenes that accompanied their departure from the Sunshine Coast they hope to eventually divide their time between Australia and Italy, living with their mother and their father.

"Australia's very far away but I would like to, you know, do both, them both, go visit Mum and her family and stay a little bit here with Dad," Claire said.

Claire and Emily were dragged screaming onto a flight to Italy by Australian Federal Police officers in 2012, with their younger sisters Christine and Lily.

It came after Laura Garrett fled the European country illegally with her four daughters after convincing authorities her estranged husband was abusive and she feared for the safety of all her daughters.

The case sparked intense coverage on the Sunshine Coast with locals and the Catholic Church where the girls attended rallying behind them and the mother.

The four girls had not seen their mother since they left her Sunshine Coast home that night, not because she is prohibited from seeing them but because she has not visited.

"(It's) just because she's got uni and work, that's the main thing," Claire said.

However, a postscript to the 60 Minutes episode said the mother had visited for a few days after the filming.

Claire admitted she exaggerated her father's violence because "I was liking my life in Australia and that was just because I didn't want to leave.''

"I didn't want to get on the plane. It's the truth, I didn't want to go back to Italy. I didn't want to leave Mum," Emily added.

The girls said their removal from their home, in the middle of the night, by federal police was traumatising.

But after three years, they said they were happy, settled and had rebuilt their relationship with their father.

They said they believed both parents should have acted more in the interests of their children, than themselves.

"It was Mum and Dad's responsibility to find, you know, the best way for us to, you know, live happily with both of them," Claire said.

"I think they were thinking more about themselves than us, you know, because we were put at the centre of this whole situation, and … I don't know, they were a little bit selfish," she said.

"Because you know, we went through all of this - I mean, they did as well, but it was most hard for us than them, 'cause, you know, they're the adults."

Deported Vincenti sisters are adjusting to life in Italy

IMAGES of the Vincenti sisters being forcibly removed from their mother's Sunshine Coast home are still in the minds of many three years later.

Aged just nine to 15 years at the time, the girls were shown kicking and screaming as Australian Federal Police officers forced them onto a plane to return to their father, Tomaso Vincenti, in Italy.

The girls, born and raised in Italy, were brought to Australia in 2010 by their mother, Laura Garrett.

Ms Garrett had told their father she wanted to take them for a month-long holiday, but never returned.

The couple had split in 2007 and under Italian law, both parents were granted custody.

In a 60 Minutes interview that will go to air tonight, the two eldest sisters, Emily and Claire, described what it was like to be wrenched from their mother.

Now aged 16 and 17 respectively, they described the experience as "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.

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


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