A Muslim cleric in Sydney has been charged over allegedly solemnising an illegal marriage of a 13-year-old girl. The 35-year-old from the Hunter region was arrested outside Parramatta Police Station Monday afternoon.
He was charged with solemnisation of a marriage by an unauthorised person, and was released on strict bail conditions. He is due to appear in Parramatta Local Court on April 2.
The unnamed man solemnised the marriage between the girl and a 26-year-old Lebanese man earlier in 2014. The Lebanese national is currently in custody after being charged with child sex offences.
Police told ABC News that the couple met when the girl was only 12 in the Hunter region, where the man apparently began a sexual relationship with her. He was charged with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with a child between 10 and 14 years old.
Their relationship was only exposed when the man tried to enrol the girl at a high school. The girl’s parents were also questioned. Police believe that they had a hand in arranging their daughter’s marriage.
“We’re still investigating the matter, it’s only early days. We only received the allegation on, I think it was last Thursday,” detective inspector Peter Yeomans from the Child Abuse Squad was quoted by ABC as saying.
“But there may be other persons charged or even further charges in relation to people who have already been charged in relation to this.”
Because of the girl’s young age, the marriage has no legal standing in Australia.