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Haneef will be seeking compensation

india Updated: Mar 17, 2008 13:02 IST
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Indian doctor Muhammad Haneef will seek compensation and wants the Australian government to broaden the powers of the judicial inquiry into his bungled terrorism case, according to his lawyers.

Leading law firm Maurice Blackburn will be acting on Haneef's behalf during the judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his arrest and detention last year.

Maurice Blackburn partner Rod Hodgson said: "Whilst Dr Haneef has shown great dignity in the face of grave allegations, he is also understandably upset at what has occurred and has instructed his legal team to seek compensation for the damage inflicted upon him and his family."

The Australian Federal Police and former immigration minister Kevin Andrews have not apologised to Haneef.

Hodgson said, "'Sorry' would not be enough. Dr Haneef has had his reputation trashed, his career stalled, his liberty taken away, his life in Australia interrupted, his earnings reduced, and his life turned upside down. Those are all wrongs, absolutely deserving of compensation."

"There are several grounds... the wrongful imprisonment... One important part of this case is not just what happened at the outset but also the period of time that Dr Haneef was kept in custody," he added.

Haneef was incarcerated for three weeks after being charged with supporting a terrorist organisation by "recklessly" giving his mobile phone SIM card to people planning the botched London and Glasgow bomb attacks.

The charges were later dropped and Haneef returned to his family in Bangalore in July last year after then-minister Andrews cancelled his 457 work visa.

Hodgson said: "Dr Haneef is looking forward to the inquiry commencing as soon as possible, and the process being broad ranging and transparent. Dr Haneef remains stunned by what has occurred and, above all, wants the truth to emerge about what happened and just as importantly, why".

The Kevin Rudd government last week appointed former New South Wales Supreme Court judge John Clarke to head the inquiry into Haneef's failed case and report by September 30.

Welcoming the appointment of Clarke to head the inquiry, Hodgson said: "Whilst the terms of reference are sufficiently broad to examine the conduct of the Migration Department and the Australian Federal Police, the powers vested in the head of the inquiry are not strong enough."

"It is regrettable that the government has not given the inquiry coercive powers to compel people such as former minister Andrews and Mr Keelty (of the police) to give evidence and be cross examined."

Haneef told The Australian newspaper on Monday: "Hopefully, it will take the right course. I think there should be powers to compel people to give evidence, otherwise the truth won't be revealed."

The former Gold Coast registrar is grateful to the Australian public for their support and the fact that an inquiry now appears imminent.

Maurice Blackburn would be acting with the assistance of Haneef's legal team of Peter Russo and Stephen Keim.