A Victorian man will fight claims he tricked his wife into a family trip to Sudan and took their children back home without her after trying to cancel her visa.
Mohamed Ahmed Omer, 50, is the first person in the state to be charged with the Commonwealth offence of exit trafficking.
He was committed on Friday to stand trial in the County Court, over allegations he tried to cancel his then-wife's partner visa without her knowledge in 2014 and left her stranded in Sudan.
Omer faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
Following an arranged marriage, the woman moved to Australia on a partner visa supported by Omer in 2012, Melbourne Magistrates Court was told on Friday. The couple had two children over the next two years.
In 2014, she wanted to take her kids to Sudan to see her family, but Omer allegedly refused. He changed his mind just weeks before his wife's departure.
Prosecutors allege Omer withheld passport and travel documents from his wife before the trip, and when she asked him if the trip to Sudan would cause any visa problems he said there would be no issue.
The family of four travelled to Sudan together in September 2014, but Omer allegedly refused to let his wife take their kids to visit her family.
One day she went to see her parents and returned to find Omer and her children were gone, it's claimed.
She allegedly tried to have the children added to the watchlist to prevent them from being taken from Sudan without her, however they had already returned to Melbourne by the time this was processed.
Prosecutors allege Omer took his wife's passport and other travel documents before departing without her.
She got a replacement passport to return to Australia, but then allegedly found out her visa application had been refused after Omer withdrew his support for the visa and told immigration their relationship had ended.
The woman was unable to visit Australia to see her children until February 2016.
The prosecution has alleged the trip to Sudan was part of a plan by Omer to separate his wife from the children.
Omer has claimed his wife refused to sign paperwork for her permanent residency application, that she wanted to return to Sudan and alleged she had been neglecting her children.
Magistrate Brett Sonnet found Omer's evidence was inconsistent and refused his lawyer's attempts to discharge the matter.
"In my view, it's open for a jury to accept that Mr Omer's departure was part of a longstanding plan by the accused, which he had formed in Australia prior to departure," he said.
Omer pleaded not guilty to exit trafficking and Mr Sonnet found there was enough evidence to commit him to stand trial in the County Court.
His barrister Brett Stevens said Omer, who remains on bail, planned to visit Sudan for more than a month between December and February.
The matter will return to court for a directions hearing on January 19, 2023.