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AFP's remarks on Haneef's case leaves Russo astounded

A remark by the Australian police chief that there was insufficient evidence against Mohammed Haneef has "astounded" the Indian doctor's lawyer.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Melbourne
UPDATED ON OCT 24, 2007 10:59 AM IST

A remark by the Australian police chief that there was insufficient evidence against Mohammed Haneef, who was tried and cleared of terrorism charge, has "astounded" the Indian doctor's lawyer, who said the official's admission could mean that there was "more to the matter that what everybody knew".

"I'm surprised because that is totally contrary to everything he has said up to date," Haneef's lawyer Peter Russo told ABC Radio.

"He's trying to suggest that there was more to this matter than what everybody knew about," he said, adding "I don't know where it comes from or why he has done this, but I'm astounded at this late stage that he just comes out."

Haneef was granted bail on July 16, but Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews intervened hours later to cancel his visa.

Andrews is now resisting Haneef's attempts to get his visa back, and has appealed against a federal court ruling that said he made a jurisdictional error in cancelling the doctor's visa in July.

Russo said the revelation by Australian federal police commissioner Mick Keelty would be of little use to them during the appeal set down for November 15 in the federal court.

"Unfortunately, the way appeals work is that they only look at the information that was before the first court," Russo said.

"So really we're limited in trying to introduce new evidence," he said.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty, in an interview to The Bulletin published this week, had said that he had personally warned the director of public prosecutions (DPP) there was insufficient evidence against the former Gold Coast Hospital registrar.

Haneef spent four weeks behind bars after being charged with recklessly providing support to a terrorist organisation by giving a SIM card to a second cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, in England in 2006.

Sabeel Ahmed was charged with withholding information about a terror attack after his brother, Kafeel Ahmed, was found at the wheel of a vehicle that crashed into Glasgow Airport on June 30 this year, a day after a bomb plot was foiled in London.

The charge against Haneef was dropped in July as the then DPP Damian Bugg conceded there was insufficient evidence.

Keelty, in an interview, warned the DPP the evidence against the Indian national was thin.

"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," Keelty told the magazine.

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