A judge has praised an ‘inspirational’ woman at the centre of a 60 Minutes defamation case for her ‘tremendous resilience and spirit’ after a jury accepted her story of kidnap, captivity and forced marriage.
Her divorced parents Mouhammad and Pamela Tabbaa lost their case against the program which they claimed had defamed them in a broadcast in 2014.
In the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday the jury accepted Nadia Tabbaa was kidnapped at 13, held captive by relatives in Syria and forced to marry her cousin.
Nadia Tabbaa (pictured) was the centre of a 60 Minutes defamation case when she shared her story of being kidnapped by her parents, held captive and forced to marry her cousin
Divorced parents Mouhammad (left) and Pamela Tabbaa (right) lost their case against 60 Minutes which they claimed defamed them in a broadcast about their daughter in 2014
Nadia Tabbaa’s half-brother, Geoffrey Rodgers (pictured), apologised for helping get her to Egypt before she was taken to Syria to live with her abusive grandmother
The jurors also accepted her numerous other claims, including that she was forced to undergo a virginity test in Jordan and her father threatened to slit her throat after she escaped back to Sydney when she was 18.
The verdicts led Justice Des Fagan to say the now 29-year-old, who was not present in court, had shown ‘tremendous resilience and spirit’ and had been quite inspirational.
On Thursday, the jury of three women and one man answered a string of questions, which overall meant they accepted Nine’s defence of truth, except for a news item contending Mr Tabbaa had ‘sold off’ Nadia to her cousin’s family in Syria.
Mr Tabbaa was not in court for the verdicts, but Pamela Tabbaa left the room swiftly after the judge said the jury clearly rejected her evidence which he said was ‘manifestly false from beginning to end’.
But he praised Nadia Tabbaa and her half-brother, Geoffrey Rodgers – the eldest son of Pamela Tabbaa – who were both called by Nine to give evidence during the trial.
Mr Rodgers had apologised in court to his sister for his involvement in getting her to Egypt before she was taken to Syria to live with her abusive grandmother.
Nadia Tabbaa (pictured at 13 on her way to Egypt) insisted having personal freedom from the age of eight or nine in the face of ‘very severe repression’ which she suffered in Syria
The court heard Nadia Tabbaa’s father (left) threatened to slit her throat after she escaped back to Sydney when she was 18-years-old after being forced to do a virginity test in Jordan
Pamela Tabbaa (pictured) left the room swiftly after the judge said the jury clearly rejected her evidence which he said was ‘manifestly false from beginning to end’
After the verdicts, Justice Fagan told Mr Rodgers he had presented as a ‘very decent unassuming good man’ who was drawn into something awful and who then acknowledged his wrong-doing.
This was to be commended, he said.
In relation to Nadia Tabbaa, the judge told the jurors he expected their verdicts ‘would be a considerable consolation to her as judgment of her community’.
He commented on her ‘tremendous resilience and spirit’ which had stuck out as she insisted on being entitled to personal freedom from the age of eight or nine in the face of ‘very severe repression’ which she suffered in Syria.
The judge said the now 29-year-old (pictured in 2014), who was not present in court, had shown ‘tremendous resilience and spirit’ and had been quite inspirational
Mr Tabbaa (pictured) was not in the NSW Supreme Court for the verdicts on Thursday
This had been an immense punishment and wrong to her, but her spirit and determination had been ‘quite inspirational’.
‘The person who has been vindicated by your verdicts has been Nadia,’ he said.
Outside court, Mr Rodgers said Nadia would be ‘over the moon’ with the outcome, but he was torn about his mother suffering.
Nine’s lawyer Justin Quill later said the broadcaster would like to thank Ms Tabbaa for her bravery in twice sharing her story – on 60 Minutes and under gruelling cross-examination in court.
’60 Minutes always felt that Nadia’s story was an important one and we commend her for standing up against the treatment she endured,’ he said.