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Haneef returns to Australia to settle compensation claims

world Updated: Dec 17, 2010 11:37 IST

PTI
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Wrongly implicated in a botched UK terror attack, Indian doctor Mohammad Haneef now hopes the resolution of his compensation claims in Australia would give him a chance to move on from the traumatic experience of detention though he believes it is "too late" for an apology now.

Haneef, 31, who arrived in Brisbane on Thursday night for mediation talks for his hefty compensation claims against the Australian government, has dubbed his return as "a very important step".

This is the first time the doctor has returned to Australia after his wrongful detention of 12 days.

Speaking to the media, Haneef said the terrorism charges were a "traumatic experience" for him and his family and impacted his career and reputation.

"This mediation process is all about some practical recognition of how this has affected my family, of me, my reputation internationally and my career," Haneef said in a statement in Brisbane.

Haneef, who was working at the Gold Coast Hospital before his arrest in 2007, still looks forward to return to practice in Australia.

"It's too late to expect that now," he said about a personal apology.

"(The arrest) was a traumatic experience for me and my family as a whole. It has impacted on all areas of my life, especially on my career and my reputation," he said.

However, he said Australia was "a very fair place" to live and that he had enjoyed his work in the country.

"Coming back to Australia represents a very important step for me and for my family. I'm grateful to the Australian government and the Australian people for their ongoing support and I'm hopeful that the upcoming mediation will be an opportunity to resolve this matter and give my family and me a chance to move forward," he said.

Haneef is now practising in the UAE but had previously hoped to train as a medical specialist in Australia.

A 2008 inquiry upheld his consistent denials of any wrongdoing, and found he was innocent of the charge filed by the Australian Federal Police.

"I am very pleased to be back in Australia. My family and I loved living here and there are many of our friends here," he said.

He plans to spend the next 10 days in the country and wants to take his daughter to the Gold Coast.

His lawyer Rod Hodgson said Haneef had suffered terrible injustice.

Mediation of his compensation claim, expected to run to millions of dollars, will be conducted next week by former Queensland corruption commissioner and judge Tony Fitzgerald.

Haneef said he was still considering returning to Australia with his wife Firdous and three-year-old daughter Haniyah, but would not be drawn on whether this was dependent on any settlement from the governmment.

Hodgson said Haneef's treatment was a disgrace and a stain on Australia's reputation as a fair place to live and work. He said the damages would be significant but it would be inappropriate to nominate a number.

Haneef is a cousin of Kafeel Ahmed and Sabeel Ahmed --the two operatives who launched the failed attack on the Glasgow International Airport in the UK in 2007.

His detention was the longest without charge in recent Australian history, and his case caused a lot of outrage in India as well as in Australia.

He was finally set free when the charges against him were withdrawn and his passport returned. He then returned to India voluntarily on July 29, 2007.