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Australian groups cry foul over Haneef’s detention

world Updated: Jul 13, 2007 04:50 IST

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The detention of Dr Mohammed Haneef without being charged for the tenth straight day evoked sharp reactions in Australia on Thursday with its Law Council saying the “law was not operating fairly” in the Indian doctor's case.

The Law Council as well as Amnesty International voiced concern over the continuous detention of Haneef in a Brisbane watch house as the third extension of his police custody ends on Friday, when court proceedings resume amid uncertainty over how long he will be held. Two days earlier, the Australian Greens party had called for Haneef to be charged or released. “It’s quite an extraordinary period of detention,” Greens Senator Kerry Nettle had said.

“This is indefinite detention by any other name. The law has left Haneef in a state of suspended animation,” Law Council president Tim Bugg said. Amnesty said Canberra’s new anti-terror powers place no cap on the length of time a person could be held in custody. “The whole case undermines the presumption of innocence... It flies in the face of the rule of law. If his (Haneef’s) case goes to trial, the presumption of innocence has already been significantly affected. If he is released, he will not be able to return to normal life without suspicion,” spokeswoman Nicole Bieske said.

“Compounding the problem is that it is very hard for Haneef’s lawyer to properly represent him when he doesn’t have full access to the information on his client’s case,” she added.

Haneef’s lawyer Peter Russo said the doctor was turning “melancholic” over his continued detention and often asked how much longer he would be held. “I’ve told him that technically, he is detained indefinitely,” Russo said.

Meanwhile, the Australian police on Thursday searched the Queensland health department building in Brisbane. A spokesman for the Australian Federal Police said a warrant was executed but did not elaborate.