A SUNSHINE Coast mother said yesterday she would not give up the fight to keep her four daughters in Australia despite what appeared to be her last-ditch attempt being quashed.
The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, failed to comply with a court order that she hand over her four daughters at the Brisbane International Airport by midnight yesterday so they could go back to Italy to go through custody proceedings.
The mother fled Italy - and the girls' father - two years ago.
The father, whom the mother has described as abusive, believed they were going on a four-week holiday.
He listened to the court proceedings yesterday with the help of a translator.
The girls have been in hiding with a relative since Monday.
In Brisbane's Family Court, the Justice said he would not hear the mother's application to have the court order discharged.
He was "highly suspicious" that the mother had not complied with the court order and was in contempt.
Counsel for Community Services urged the court to order that the girls be found quickly.
It had been reported that a relative said she would rather die and kill the girls than have them return to Italy.
Outside court, the mother said she could not risk going to jail for contempt.
"I have to try and stay out of prison. I can't risk myself - I need to be here for my girls," the teary mother said.
"I am not going to give up.
"Justice has not been served as far as I am concerned.
"I am starting to get angry. These children have the right to be heard and they are not being heard."
The mother claimed she did not know where her daughters were hiding.
The eldest daughter, 14, with the help of her great aunt, asked for a stay of proceedings in the Family Court, but was denied.
In a further blow, the girls' great grandmother, grandmother and aunt were ordered to give evidence tomorrow about the girls' whereabouts.
The Justice said the mother could have chosen to change the custody arrangement while she was living in Italy with her daughters but chose to flee the country.
MEDIA'S SWIFT JUSTICE
The judge blasted some media outlets for their coverage of the case as the hearing opened yesterday morning.
''A particular media outlet based in this city has clearly broken the law," he said.
Although not named in court today, The Courier-Mail has published photographs of the girls on its front page.
In a written statement, Courier-Mail editor Michael Crutcher said: "The newspaper has had no contact from any legal authorities in relation to The Courier-Mail's coverage of this story."