Govt grants Sofia's final Aussie wish

The family of murdered Catholic schoolgirl, Sofia Rodriguez-Urrutia-Shu, who was to have become an Australian citizen a week after her brutal murder in June, has received a special government certificate which recognises Sofia's membership of the Australian community.

The West Australian reports the Perth eight-year-old whose body was found on the floor of a disabled toilet at a Canning Vale shopping centre on 26 June had been due, along with the rest of her family, to become an Australian citizen less than a week after she was murdered.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone last week granted her wish, presenting her family with a special certificate created just for her.

"Through this gesture today we acknowledge the importance of Sofia having intended to become an Australian citizen, and in doing so we recognise her membership of the Australian community," Senator Vanstone said.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs State director Bruce Mackay said the certificate was created specifically as a goodwill gesture to help her family manage their grief.

The certificate, dedicated to Sofia and signed by Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone, recognises her membership of the Australian community.

It includes a photo of Sofia in her school uniform and the message: "A beautiful child who would have been a fine Australian citizen."

Sofia's family continued with their citizenship ceremony in the week after her death as a tribute to their daughter's desire but Mr Mackay said Sofia's citizenship could not be awarded posthumously.

"Sofia was very excited about attending her ceremony . . . and it was important to recognise the fact that she would have become a proud Australian citizen," Mr Mackay said.

"The citizenship ceremony is one of the chances for children to join in and it is a tragedy that Sofia was not part of the ceremony she was looking forward to."

Family priest Father Brian Rosling said on behalf of the family that they were very proud of their daughter and felt honoured to receive the unique certificate.

Dante Wyndham Arthurs, 21, of Canning Vale, is expected to fight charges of wilful murder, sexual penetration of a child and deprivation of liberty at a Supreme Court trial next year after pleading not guilty to the charges in October.

Murdered Sofia gets her Aussie dream (The West Australian, 11/11/06)
Dead Sofia honoured (The West Australian, 10/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sofia Rodriguez-Urrutia-Shu (Wikipedia)

Sofia's parents thank God for sharing "angel" (CathNews, 4/7/06)
Sofia's family ask for prayers (CathNews, 28/6/06)

13 Nov 2006