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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 17:29 GMT
Appeal over Aborigine rape ruling
Australia's new PM Kevin Rudd
New Australian PM Kevin Rudd said he was appalled by the judgement
Senior Australian lawyers are appealing against a judge's decision to allow nine Aborigine males to walk free from court after admitting rape.

Queensland Attorney General Kerry Shine labelled the ruling unacceptable and "manifestly inadequate".

The nine males were given non-custodial sentences for raping a 10-year-old girl in an Aboriginal settlement in 2006.

The judge provoked widespread anger by commenting that the girl had "probably agreed to have sex" with the gang.

The attorney general said he did not see the relevance of Judge Sarah Bradley's comments, made during sentencing in Cairns in October.

"Any child under the age of 12 cannot legally give consent to sexual intercourse, so the relevance of the judge's remark mystifies me," he said.

System failure

Six juveniles were placed on probation after pleading guilty to the rape of the girl, in the settlement of Aurukun in northern Queensland.

The system clearly failed this little girl
Queensland state Premier
Anna Bligh

Three older men received suspended jail sentences.

Australia's newly-elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he was horrified by the case and appalled at the judgement.

State officials have announced a review of all sex abuse verdicts in Aboriginal Queensland over the past two years.

Meanwhile, Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh confirmed reports that the girl was first sexually assaulted at Aurukun in 2002 by several juveniles. They were not charged.

Ms Bligh said the girl was placed into foster care after the incident but was returned to the settlement in April 2006, where she was gang-raped shortly after.

"The system clearly failed this little girl," said Ms Bligh. A welfare officer who took the decision to send the child back to Aurukun has been sacked and two others suspended.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Australian PM Kevin Rudd reaction



SEE ALSO
Rape case ruling shocks Australia
10 Dec 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Aborigine child sex abuse 'rife'
15 Jun 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Alcohol 'time-bomb' of Aborigines
12 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Booze ban extended for Aborigines
17 Apr 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia's lost generation
16 Feb 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Australia
04 Dec 07 |  Country profiles

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