A 34-year-old man and the 14-year-old bride he illegally married have both cried in a Melbourne court as he pleaded guilty to his crime.
Mohammad Shakir pleaded guilty to going through a formal ceremony of marriage with a person not of marriageable age at Noble Park last September.
The “wedding” was conducted by former imam, Ibrahim Omerdic.
As part of Shakir’s plea, two charges were withdrawn by prosecutors in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
They included allegations Shakir had sex with the girl between September 30 and October 1, 2016, following their wedding.
Shakir, who has been in custody for six months, shed tears after entering his plea during what was to be a pre-trial committal hearing.
He was helped in court by a Burmese interpreter.
The complainant, who was in court, also wiped tears from her eyes.
The imam who oversaw the ceremony, Ibrahim Omerdic, 61, is charged with conduct that caused a minor to enter into a forced marriage at Noble Park on September 29 last year.
The Muslim cleric, who was Imam of the Bosnian Islamic Society and Noble Park Mosque, has since been sacked.
At the time, the Board of Imams Victoria issued a statement against forced and child marriages.
“Underage marriages are illegal in Australia. As Australian Muslims we are required to observe and respect the laws of Australia,” the statement said.
The board said imams should meet both the bride and groom in person before the marriage ceremony to ensure they are of marriageable age and both consented.
Omerdic will face a contest mention hearing in May, while Shakir’s matter was adjourned to the County Court in September.