Both Indian doctors held for the failed UK terror attacks were charged on Saturday. In Australia, Dr Mohammed Haneef was charged with supporting terrorism, dashing his family’s hopes that he would be released after the police decided not to apply for an extension of custody.
In the UK, Dr Sabeel Ahmed was charged with withholding information that could have prevented a terror attack.
Haneef’s bail application will be considered by a Brisbane court on Monday. The charges against him carry a maximum sentence of 15 years. Under Australian law, those charged with terrorism offences can be released only under “exceptional circumstances”.
<b1>Haneef, 27, is alleged to have supplied a mobile phone SIM card to cousins Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed. But Haneef’s lawyer Stephen Keim said the case was “extremely weak”.
Keim said Haneef left the SIM card with Sabeel when he left the UK for Australia last year so that Sabeel could take advantage of “an extra-minute deal” offered by the provider, O2. “It is not suggested that he is anything other than a foolish dupe who should have been more suspicious,” Keim said. “For some reason, he should have been aware that something was going to happen when the rest of the world didn’t.”
Australian Federal Police chief Mick Keetly too said in Canberra: “The specific allegation involves recklessness rather than intention.”
However, Commonwealth prosecutor Clive Porritt argued that Haneef would have had some knowledge of his cousins’ alleged links to terrorism. “These are people he lived with, may have worked with and was certainly associated with,” he told the court.
In Bangalore, Haneef’s wife Firdaus Arshiya appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for help. “I appeal to the prime minister and defence minister to please, please help me. Every one knows that he (Haneef) is innocent,” she said.
In the Brisbane court where Haneef was charged, Porritt feared that the doctor would flee Australia if released.
Keim argued that it was impossible because Haneef’s photograph had been plastered across newspapers and TV bulletins for the past two weeks. He had also surrendered his passport. “Whatever flight risk he represented two weeks ago, he doesn’t represent now,” said Klem.
In the UK, Sabeel, 26, was produced before the City of Westminster Magistrates Court, making him the third person to be charged for last month’s failed attacks, after Haneef and Iraqi doctor Bilal Abdullah. Sabeel was arrested on June 30, just hours after the attack at the Glasgow airport.
His brother Kafeel, who allegedly drove the blazing jeep into the airport terminal building, is said to be in a critical condition after suffering burn injuries.
The airport attack came 36 hours after the discovery of two cars packed with fuel, gas tanks and nails in London.
Meanwhile, the British police have got seven more days to question Mohammad Asha, a Jordanian doctor who is also a suspect in the attacks. His wife, who was held with him after the attacks, was released by the British police a couple of days ago.
(Inputs from BR Srikanth in Bangalore)