Rudd To Set Up Haneef Inquiry

Rudd To Set Up Haneef Inquiry

Hedley Thomas
The Australian
December 07, 2007

DOCTOR Mohamed Haneef and his legal team will get their wish soon, with the Rudd Government preparing to establish a judicial inquiry into the handling of the case and the effectiveness of Australia's anti-terror laws.

Kevin Rudd, who as Opposition leader in the last week of the federal election campaign pledged to hold an inquiry, said yesterday that an “independent judicial inquiry” was necessary to ensure accountability.

The inquiry, if given appropriate terms of reference, would investigate the grounds on which the Australian Federal Police charged Dr Haneef on July 13 for allegedly supporting a terrorist organisation by giving away his phone SIM card a year earlier.

The mistakes made by police and prosecutors, and the role of then immigration minister Kevin Andrews in cancelling Dr Haneef's visa on July 16, would also come in for scrutiny.

Dr Haneef is still waiting for a decision from the Full Bench of the Federal Court after judge Jeffrey Spender ruled that the former Gold Coast Hospital registrar should have his visa returned.

The Prime Minister yesterday revealed that his Government had been taking advice on “how best to proceed”.

He said an inquiry would not be about “raking over the coals” but about getting to the truth.

“We want to make sure that, with these tough anti-terrorism laws that we've got in Australia, that we've got the proper institutional arrangements necessary for their enforcement and the proper checks and balances in the system, as well,” he said.

Dr Haneef's solicitor, Peter Russo, said it was a positive development after months of wrangling with the Howard government and the AFP: “It's about time we had some common sense prevailing in Dr Haneef's case. I welcome the cautious approach that the Prime Minister has indicated he will take in the matter.”

Mr Russo said he was sure Dr Haneef “will co-operate with any inquiry but he can't come back (togive evidence) unless he isgranted some sort of visa”.

He said that an open judicial inquiry should focus on all aspects of the case.

The Indian-born doctor was charged after he gave his SIM card to a relative who became involved in a terror plot to bomb targets in London and Glasgow.