Real story behind moment police shoved Tara Brown into car at court

By Emma Reynolds

Handcuffed and held in a vice-like grip, Tara Brown battled to maintain her composure as she was shoved roughly by the head into a police car outside a Lebanon court.

The typically dignified veteran journalist was seen only fleetingly alongside Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner after their one-minute appearance at a Beirut hearing into the botched 60 Minutes child abduction.

And that's exactly the way the police force wanted it, according to The Australian's journalist Jacquelin Magnay, who was at Baabda court as the case was adjourned until Wednesday.

"When Tara was taken outside, there was a lot of subterfuge going on," she told 2UE radio this morning. "They didn't want anybody seeing the women come in or out of court and, amazingly, all the media were staking out every back entrance of this court, which is a little bit of a rabbit warren, and they walked her out the front door."

Tara Brown is escorted from court on April 18, 2016 in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo / Getty Images
Tara Brown is escorted from court on April 18, 2016 in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo / Getty Images

It's the reason there was no video footage of the accused. "The cameramen were running down the street to try and get the shot," said Magnay. "Where you see the policeman pushing Tara's head down, that was not to put her in the car, it was to stop her turning her head to look at the cameras."

There's little sympathy for the TV crew and child recovery agents in the local community as they fight to get off kidnapping, physical assault, hiding information and criminal conspiracy charges that could see them locked away for 20 years.

"They [local media] are quite outraged that two Lebanese children have been kidnapped off their grandmother in the middle of a Hezbollah area and they feel that it's an affront to the family," said Magnay.

"Certainly, the image of Australia coming in and snatching two children is not being portrayed in a very favourable light."

Lawyers for the Channel Nine prisoners and the children's Lebanese father, Ali Elamine, are only communicating through intermediaries. Mr Elamine was reportedly tipped off about the kidnapping plot by a family friend and by looking at Ms Faulkner's emails on an iPad through which she was Skyping the children.

Chief planner Adam Whittington claims he was paid $115,000 for the operation directly by Channel Nine for the operation, and has the receipts to prove it.

"The issue is where it was done, the father kicked off about what was going to happen, so they were walking into a trap," said Magnay.

"There's enormous diplomatic efforts going on but I don't think that they're, it's becoming very effective."

Mr Elamine, who took five-year-old Lahela and three-year-old Noah to his home country last year, appears determined not to give the TV crew "a free pass." Both parents have what they believe to be the legal right to custody of their children, obtained in their separate countries.

Magnay believes the next few days will be critical for Channel Nine's Brown, Stephen Rice, David Ballment and Ben Williamson, with their lawyers fighting to reach an agreement before the weekend.

"Channel Nine is trying to do deals, I mean, how big is the chequebook?" asked Magnay. "The problem is the family, the Elamine family, is very rich so money is not really going to make a huge amount of difference.

"They will want the big public apology, they will want some enormous amount of compensation just to repair their respectability and I really can't see this being concluded in any short time."

- news.com.au

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