A judge presiding over an international custody case involving four missing sisters has refused to hear any applications as part of a last-ditch attempt to keep the siblings in the country.

The Australian-born mother of the girls, all dual Australian-Italian citizens aged from nine to 14, had been seeking to keep them in Australia permanently since bringing them here on holiday two years ago.

The Family Court earlier ruled they must return to Italy for custody proceedings there, however the four instead went into hiding with their great-grandmother.

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