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Brisbane court grants bail to Indian doctor

Mohd Haneef gets bail on the condition that he provides a surety of Australian $10,000 and reports to a police station in Queensland thrice a week.

world Updated: Jul 16, 2007 10:42 IST

Mohamed Haneef, the Indian doctor charged in the failed UK bomb plot, has been granted bail by a Brisbane magistrate on the condition that he provides a surety of Australian $10,000 and reports to the Southport police station in the state of Queensland three times a week.

Brisbane Magistrate Jacqui Payne has ruled Haneef should be released into the community pending his trial for supporting a terrorist organisation by "recklessly" giving his mobile phone SIM card to people planning the UK bomb attacks.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Magistrate Payne listed eight reasons for granting bail, among them that there was no direct link to a terrorist organisation in Britain.

Haneef will reappear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on August 31 and, according to his lawyer Peter Russo, Haneef's reaction to being granted bail would be "one of relief, that finally the matter has been aired in open court".

On when he would be released from custody, his lawyer told the Nine Network this morning, "That's a difficult question obviously we'll have to organise a residence, a surety and bail and it may take a couple of hours or a couple of days.

Today, there was uncertainty surrounding Haneef's employment at the Gold Coast hospital with reports that he has been suspended from the registrar's job. Haneef must provide his address within 24 hours, as part of his bail conditions, but it has been reported that police searches have left his apartment "unliveable".

The Commonwealth prosecutor Clive Porritt had argued for the 27-year-old doctor working in the Gold Coast hospital to remain behind bars as he was a flight risk, citing the Australian counter terrorism laws which state that those charged with terrorism offences can only be granted bail in "exceptional circumstances".

Haneef has already surrendered his passport.

However, the legal team representing Haneef had claimed to have made some headway in seeking bail for their client. His barrister Stephen Keim had argued "the extremely weak case" against his client was grounds enough to justify his release.

Haneef was arrested by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on July 2 at Brisbane International Airport just before flying to India on a one-way ticket. He has been in the Brisbane Watch House for the past two weeks and on Saturday was charged under the Australian counter-terrorism laws with supporting a terrorist organisation by "recklessly" giving his mobile phone SIM card to people planning the UK bomb attacks.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. He had showed little emotion during the bail application hearing on Saturday, when the Brisbane magistrate adjourned the hearing to this morning because of the complexity of the case and ordered Haneef remain in custody until today.

His family in India has all along maintained that he is innocent and Haneef has admitted to giving the SIM card to his second cousin Sabeel Ahmed, the third person charged in the foiled UK bomb plot so that the latter could take advantage of an "extra minute deal" offered by provider O2.

This Australian Federal election year, security has been catapulted as one of the main poll issues. The John Howard led coalition government and the opposition Labour Party have both defended the counter terrorism laws and Howard is leaving the option open to further strengthen Australia's counter terrorism laws.