The Muslim cleric had come to Australia on an employment visa
Police have arrested and charged a Muslim imam accused of conducting the marriage of a 12-year-old girl in the Hunter Valley this year. Imam Muhammad Riaz Tasawar, from Pakistan, will face court in April.
The Muslim cleric had come to Australia on an employment visa sponsored by The Islamic Centre of Newcastle. He worked at the center for four years before news of the illegal union spread.
Detectives from the Child Abuse Squad arrested the 35-year-old Pakistan-born man outside Parramatta police station about 4.30pm on Monday afternoon, police said.
Police will allege he agreed to conduct a ceremony after he was approached by a 26-year-old man, who was eager to marry the girl.
The 26-year-old, a Lebanese man who is living in Australia on a student visa, has been charged with 25 counts of having sexual intercourse with an underage child.
It had been reported the imam had gone to ground. "He was located outside the police station," a police spokesman said.
"It wasn't arrest by appointment or anything like that, just that we happened to find him outside the police station."
Detectives allege the father allowed his daughter to be married to the 26-year-old at his house in a private Islamic ceremony on January 12.
The case of a father who allowed his 12-year-old daughter to marry ''for love'' may be one of at least 250 similar incidents across the nation in the past two years, a legal expert has warned.
There will be a lot more cases like this if Muslim migration to Australia continues.