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No evidence against Haneef, says probe

Dr. Mohamed Haneef at a press conference in Bangalore in this December 21, 2007 file photo.

Dr. Mohamed Haneef at a press conference in Bangalore in this December 21, 2007 file photo.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: PTI

P. S. Suryanarayana

High-powered inquiry presents report in Parliament

SINGAPORE: Australia’s high-powered inquiry has revealed that Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef “was wrongly charged” by Australian authorities in July last year on suspected links to a terrorist plot in Britain.

Former Justice John Clarke, who conducted the inquiry, said in his Report: “I could find no evidence that he [Dr. Haneef] was associated with or had foreknowledge of the terrorist events … in the United Kingdom” in June that year.

The Report was tabled by Australia’s Attorney-General Robert McClelland in Parliament on Tuesday.

The montage of events in the case began with the arrest of Dr. Haneef, in Queensland on a work-visa last year, as he was about to leave for Bangalore for a family re-union. What followed were his detention without charges for 12 days, the charging, cancellation of his work-visa upon his being granted judicial bail, and the issuance of a criminal-justice stay-certificate that prolonged his ordeal. He was finally allowed to leave Australia after what Mr. Clarke has now described as “the spectacular and speedy collapse of the prosecution.”

On the charges, centred on a mobile-phone SIM card Dr. Haneef gave his cousins in the U.K. before leaving for Australia, Mr. Clarke observed that it was “a card that could have been bought for a small sum of money, even with a false name.” The card-transfer occurred “about 12 months before the terrorist attack.” And, “if the [Australian] police officers had reflected on those basic facts, they would have realised that, in such circumstances, the evidence demonstrating criminal intent or recklessness would have had to be very strong indeed.”

Mr. McClelland told journalists in Sydney on Tuesday the issue of an apology to Dr. Haneef “is better addressed to those who were in power at the time” of his ordeal. In the official transcript made available to The Hindu, Mr. McClelland said the present Australian Government “will await representations” from Dr. Haneef’s lawyers “before considering … compensation” for him.

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