Oz police was ordered to charge as many suspects as possible to test country’s terror laws’

November 14th, 2007 - 10:37 am ICT by admin  

According to a report in The Australian, federal agent Kemuel Lam Paktsun, the senior case officer on the Operation Newport investigation that led to the arrest of Sydney medical student Izhar Ul-Haque, whose trial was sensationally dismissed in the New South Wales Supreme Court yesterday, made this startling testimony during a pre-trial hearing on October 24.

“At the time, we were directed, we were informed, to lay as many charges under the new terrorist legislation against as many suspects as possible because we wanted to use the new legislation,” the paper quoted Paktsun, as testifying.

“So, regardless of the assistance that Mr Ul-Haque could give, he was going to be prosecuted, charged, because we wanted to test the legislation and lay new charges, in our eagerness to use the legislation,” he added.

The frank admission was made under cross-examination during a hearing to test the admissibility of two AFP interviews conducted with Mr Ul-Haque, who was charged with receiving training from the terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Toiba in January and February 2003.

The case against Mr Ul-Haque was dismissed yesterday in the NSW Supreme Court when judge Michael Adams found the conduct of two ASIO officers who interviewed Mr Ul-Haque prior to his formal AFP interviews had been “grossly improper and constituted an unjustified and unlawful interference with the personal liberty of the accused”.

The case of the promising young medical student arrested, charged and almost tried as a would-be terrorist is the latest in a litany of failed terrorism prosecutions in which the Australian authorities’ determination to obtain convictions appears to have outweighed their commitment to do so in strict accordance with the law.

Amid a backlash against Muslims, Ul-Haque’s father was unable to find work and returned to Pakistan. Distracted from his studies, Ul-Haque failed his second year of medicine.

In late 2002 he wrote to his family: “I’m fed up with Westerners. Western patients look at me as if I’m a frog. They don’t wish to speak English to me. How can I spend five to six years with them?” Disheartened and frustrated, he was ripe for recruitment, when he was targeted by a fellow immigrant from Pakistan, Faheem Khalid Lodhi, who is appealing against a 20-year sentence handed down last year for facilitating terrorist acts.

When the older man invited him to travel to Pakistan to join the jihad, Ul-Haque readily agreed. He wrote again to his family, saying that he was planning to join LET to fight the Indian army in Kashmir and that, God willing, he would die a martyr.

Appalled by his actions, Ul-Haque’s brother and father followed him to the LET camp to persuade him to come home.

Ul-Haque finished the 20-day beginners’ training course, which he later described as being “like kindergarten” and decided, to his family’s relief, that he was “physically incapable” of being a jihadist.

Yesterday’s verdict and the admission by Paktsun that the police were under pressure to mount terrorism prosecutions raises disturbing questions about the lengths Australian authorities have been prepared to go to obtain convictions in a highly politicised “war on terror”. (ANI)

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