Australia launches Haneef inquiry

By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Dr Haneef has consistently denied any wrongdoing

 

An investigation has begun into the Australian government's handling of the case against former terrorist suspect Dr Mohammed Haneef.

The Indian doctor was charged with supporting a terrorist group involved in bomb plots in the UK last year.

But although the case against him collapsed and the charges were dropped, he still had his visa withdrawn.

The review into the case will be carried out by a former New South Wales Supreme Court justice.

Bungled

The investigation into Dr Haneef cost some $7m (3.5m) and involved 450 law enforcement officials.

But it was badly bungled from the start.

After police arrested the Indian doctor on the Gold Coast in Queensland last July, prosecutors claimed that his mobile phone SIM card had been given to suspected terrorists in the UK, and was found at the site of a planned car bomb attack at Glasgow airport.

But that was not true, and as soon as the media reported this error the case against him started to collapse.

Even after the criminal charge against him was dropped, the government of former Australian Prime Minister John Howard cancelled the Indian's visa - another decision which this judicial inquiry will examine.

The then immigration minister, Kevin Andrews, is expected to tell the inquiry that the Australian Federal Police did not inform him of powerful evidence which pointed to the doctor's innocence.

The inquiry will look into whether this vital information was ignored, or if it was ever passed on to Australian investigators by the British authorities.

Dr Haneef's visa has now been restored by the new Labor government, and he has indicated he would like to return to Australia to resume his medical career.

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