Conviction overturned in Australia's first FGM case

A mother, a former registered nurse and Sydney Islamic sect leader convicted in Australia's first female genital mutilation court case — seen as a breakthrough in prosecuting the crime — have been acquitted by an appeal court.

Shabbir Vaziri, a head cleric and spiritual leader in the Dawoodi Bohra community, was found guilty of being an accessory for directing members to lie about the practice of 'khatna', a procedure involving the nicking or cutting a girl's clitoris in the presence of female elders.

The mother and Ms Magennis were sentenced to 11 months' home detention, while Mr Vaziri received a maximum 15-month full-time custodial sentence and was later granted bail pending an appeal.

But the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal has quashed the convictions of all three after reviewing new expert evidence, namely that the tip of the clitoris was still visible in each girl. "While having regard to the whole of the evidence, and the summing up, it cannot be concluded that the jury would have come to the same decision had the new evidence been available at the trial," the judgement read.

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