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'Aus probes new claim against Indian doc'

Media reports say that investigators are looking at documents referring to the destruction of structures.
Reuters | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON JUL 22, 2007 02:08 PM IST

Australian police were investigating whether an Indian doctor detained on terror charges may have been plotting to blow up a high-rise building on the Gold Coast, the Sunday Mail newspaper reported on Sunday.

An Australian Federal Police spokeswoman refused to confirm or deny the report which said police were studying photographs of the landmark building and its foundations seized in a raid on Mohamed Haneef's home in Southport in Queensland three weeks ago. "We will not confirm or deny the allegations," the spokeswoman told Reuters.

The report, which cited police sources, said investigators were looking at documents referring to the destruction of structures. The report was also carried in Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper.

Lawyers for Haneef, who is charged over links for failed bomb attacks in Britain in June, said police did not raise the new allegations against him during his questioning over nearly two weeks of detention.

"If these allegations have any credence, why were they not put to Dr Haneef in either interview, especially, if, as they claim, this information has been with the police for three weeks?," Haneef's lawyer Peter Russo said in a statement.

Australia moved on Friday to calm Indian concerns over Haneef's detention after media reports said Haneef's mobile phone SIM card had not been found in a burning car at a Glasgow airport terminal as police have alleged in court, undermining the case against the 27-year-old doctor.

Haneef is charged with recklessly supporting terrorism by providing a relative in Britain with his SIM card.

He has not entered a plea to the charges and remains in jail after the government cancelled his visa and ordered he be kept in immigration detention, despite a magistrate earlier ruling he could be released on bail.

Police in Britain have charged three people over the attacks, including Haneef's second cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, 26, who is accused of failing to disclose information that could have prevented an act of terrorism.

Another of Haneef's second cousins, Kafeel Ahmed, is under police guard in hospital after being badly burned when a jeep was driven into an airport terminal in Glasgow and set ablaze.

After he was arrested, Haneef told police that when he was about to leave for Australia in July 2006, he left his SIM card with Sabeel to use.

ABC radio and local newspapers said Friday sources in Australia and Britain had confirmed the SIM card was found on Sabeel, and not in the burning car as Australian police had alleged in court.

Sunday's report is the latest in a string of media leaks in Australia about the Haneef case.

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