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Police take responsibility for errors: Haneef's lawyer

Haneef's lawyer is asking the Australian Federal Police to take full responsibility of the errors in the investigation of his case.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Sydney
UPDATED ON OCT 25, 2007 12:52 AM IST

The saga of Indian doctor Muhammad Haneef is continuing to haunt the Australian authorities with his lawyer asking the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to take full responsibility of the errors in the investigation of his case.

Close on the heels of AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty commenting in the Bulletin magazine that he believed his force made errors and he was surprised when Haneef was charged with providing support to a terrorist organisation, The Australian newspaper reported that Prosecutor Clive Porritt has been demoted from his senior position in the Brisbane office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Haneef's lawyer Peter Russo is demanding the AFP take responsibility for the errors, which have ruined his client's future, and that Porritt was relying on information from the AFP and the mistakes were not his fault.

Keelty told the Bulletin: "I was as surprised as anybody when the DPP advised that Haneef could be charged. Because I didn't think the evidence was strong enough."

Asked if he had told the DPP of his concerns, Keelty replied: "Oh, yes.... Mine was an opinion that I expressed to the DPP, but I understood all the time that the prosecutor was independent of me and independent of the investigation and needed to come up with a view for himself."

Porritt had incorrectly told the Brisbane Magistrates Court in July that Haneef had lived in Britain with his second cousins Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed, who were accused of terrorist offences.

He had also said that Haneef's SIM card was found in the burning jeep that crashed in Glasgow airport in a failed terror plot whereas it was found in Liverpool.

The 27-year-old Gold Coast registrar was incarcerated for three weeks after being charged. The charges were later dropped and he returned to his family in Bangalore after Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews cancelled his 457-world visa. His legal team has appealed against the decision.

Andrews is resisting Haneef's attempts to get his visa back, and has appealed against a Federal Court ruling that he made a jurisdictional error in cancelling Haneef's work visa.

Haneef's case is continuing to embarrass the government, with elections only weeks away.

"Keelty's relationship with the DPP, that's entirely a matter for them. That's not really something for us to intervene in. ...The government doesn't have anything to do with that," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Wednesday.

"I think the best thing is to allow the court processes to play out in the normal way. I think that is the thing to do at this stage," he said.

Political parties have been demanding a judicial enquiry and Haneef's solicitor has asked for immigration legislation governing his client to be reviewed after the federal election.

Russo told ABC, "We've got a situation now where a person has had his visa cancelled, lost his job, had his reputation suffered based on information that the AFP provided to the director's office. Now he's come out and said that he told them that the case was weak. It doesn't make any sense at all."

Haneef's visa appeal will come up for hearing next month. Will it cost the Federal Government votes on Nov 24 polling day? Russo told ABC, "That's a really hard call for me to make, but I mean I think there are people out there who are concerned about the behaviour of Minister Andrews and they may very well take their process to the ballot box."

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