Australia allocates $2 mn more to fund Haneef inquiry

May 13th, 2008 - 8:16 pm ICT by admin  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, May 13 (IANS) The Australian government has set aside an extra A$2.2 million (US$ 2 million) to fund the judicial inquiry into the way official agencies handled the terrorism case against Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef. The amount has been allocated in the first budget presented by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s government.

Haneef, 28, was charged with recklessly providing support to a terrorist organisation by giving his mobile phone SIM card to his cousin Sabeel Ahmed, one of the men accused in the botched British bomb attacks in 2007.

Former immigration minister Kevin Andrews cancelled Haneef’s work visa, just hours after a magistrate granted him bail on July 16, 2007, ensuring his continued incarceration. The charges against Haneef were dropped and the former Gold Coast registrar returned home to Bangalore last year.

The inquiry, headed by New South Wales Supreme Court Justice John Clarke, will investigate the series of events from the arrest of Haneef at Brisbane airport on July 2, 2007, until his release from detention and return home to Bangalore on July 29 last year. Clarke is due to submit his report by Sep 30.

Budget papers show the total cost of the inquiry is likely to be about $4.2 million with $2 million of that coming from the existing budget of the Attorney-General Robert McClelland’s Department.

“The inquiry will also examine and report on the effectiveness of cooperation, coordination and interoperability between commonwealth agencies and with state law enforcement agencies,” the budget papers said.

The Australian Federal Police, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and Kevin Andrews have all drawn flak for the embarrassing faux pas in the failed case of Haneef.

The bungled terrorism investigation by Australian police into Haneef’s case has been costing the tax payer a whopping A$8 million. There are still nine Australian federal police staff working on Haneef’s case.

Haneef’s work visa was reinstated last December by the new Labour Immigration Minister Chris Evans and keeping to his pre-election promise, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd instituted a judicial inquiry into Haneef’s case in March this year.

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