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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 December 2007, 04:43 GMT
Aborigine rape official suspended
By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

Australia's new PM Kevin Rudd
New Australian PM Kevin Rudd said he was appalled by the judgement
The prosecutor in a child rape case which has sparked outrage in Australia has been stood aside pending an investigation into his actions.

Steve Carter did not seek prison sentences for nine indigenous males who admitted the gang rape of a 10-year-old Aboriginal girl in Northern Queensland.

The female judge in the case let the men walk free after saying the girl had probably given her consent.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said he is appalled by the case.

When news emerged that the self-confessed rapists had been allowed to walk free, Judge Sarah Bradley was vilified for her comment that the girl had probably agreed to have sex with them all.

'Childish experimentation'

Now it is the actions of the prosecutor in the case which are coming under close scrutiny.

A group of Aboriginal people (file image)
Sexual abuse has been a noted problem among Aborigines

Court transcripts show that Steve Carter, the senior legal officer for that part of Northern Queensland, described the 2006 gang rape as childish experimentation and said it was consensual in a general sense.

He told Judge Bradley the offenders had not forced themselves on the girl and nor did they threaten her.

On that basis, he recommended no conviction should be recorded against six of the offenders who were juveniles.

The director of public prosecutions has now announced a review of Mr Carter's conduct and he has been stood aside in the meantime.

One senior child safety officer in Queensland has already been sacked over the incident and two others suspended.

That followed the revelation that the victim had been sent back to her home community after a period in foster care despite being gang-raped there at the age of seven.

Both the courts and the child safety department have offered her little protection.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Australian PM Kevin Rudd's reaction



SEE ALSO
Appeal over Aborigine rape ruling
11 Dec 07 |  Asia-Pacific
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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