Haneef lawyers win bid for withheld immigration papers

May 14th, 2008 - 10:35 pm ICT by admin  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, May 14 (IANS) Indian doctor Muhammad Haneef’s lawyers have succeeded in fast-tracking a court challenge securing the release of documents from the immigration department, which they say are crucial to the judicial inquiry into his failed case. Haneef’s lawyers last week appealed to the Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal (CAAT) in Brisbane requesting a review of the immigration department’s decision to withhold information on Haneef’s cancelled work visa.

The CAAT Wednesday decided to fast-track the matter for a hearing June 16 and 17 so the documents could be provided to the inquiry headed by former New South Wales Supreme Court Justice John Clarke.

Haneef’s legal team wants the immigration department to release 250 documents relating to the cancellation of his work visa.

His lawyer Rod Hodgson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: “We want full disclosure of all the documents that can assist the Clarke Inquiry. We want to fast track this with a minimum of bureaucracy.”

“Our prime objective is to assist the Clarke Inquiry in addressing its terms of reference and getting to the bottom of what happened last year,” Hodgson added.

Hodgson had last week told reporters that documents obtained under the Freedom of Information had been heavily edited on several grounds, but could be vital to the current judicial inquiry into the handling of Haneef’s bungled terrorism case.

Haneef’s lawyers want Clarke to be given “coercive powers” to force witnesses including former Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews, who had cancelled Haneef’s work visa despite the terrorism charge against him being dropped, and Australian Federal Police (AFP) Chief Mick Keelty to give evidence.

The Clarke inquiry, which is due to submit its report by September 30, will investigate the series of events from Haneef’s arrest at Brisbane airport July 2, 2007, until his release from detention and return home to Bangalore July 29, last year.

Haneef was incarcerated in Australia for three weeks last July after being charged with supporting a terrorist organisation by “recklessly” giving his mobile phone SIM card to people planning the botched London and Glasgow bomb attacks.

The charges were later dropped and Haneef returned to his family in Bangalore last year. His work visa was reinstated last December by the new Labour Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

In the Kevin Rudd Government’s first budget Tuesday, an extra A$2.2 million (US $2 million) was allocated to fund the judicial inquiry into the way official agencies handled the terrorism case against Haneef.

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