SYDNEY : A Muslim cleric was Tuesday charged in Australia with conducting an illegal marriage between a 26-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl.
It follows the arrest of a Lebanese national - the “husband” - last week on child sex offences.
Police said the imam, reportedly Pakistan-born, was arrested in Sydney on Monday afternoon by the Child Abuse Squad and charged with solemnisation of a marriage by an unauthorised person. He was granted strict conditional bail to appear in court on April 2. Last week police revealed that the Lebanese man, in Australia on a student visa, met a 12-year-old girl in the Hunter region north of Sydney in 2013 and allegedly became involved in a sexual relationship with her. While child marriages remain prevalent in parts of the world, in Australia 18 is the minimum age to tie the knot.
Police have not laid charges against the parents of the girl, but investigations are continuing, police said.