Critics: Aussi govt misusing power about Indian doctor

Civil libertarians and supporters of an Indian doctor accused of links to the failed attacks on London and Glasgow accused Australia’s government Tuesday of trampling democracy by trying to override a judge’s decision granting him bail.

Critics: Aussi govt misusing power about Indian doctor

Hours after a magistrate in the eastern city of Brisbane granted Mohamed Haneef 10,000 Australian dollars (US$8,700; Ð6,313) bail on Monday, the immigration minister canceled the 27-year-old’s work visa on character grounds and ordered he be held in a Sydney detention center while his case is heard.

Haneef’s lawyers met early Tuesday to plan their appeal.

Meanwhile, prominent lawyer Julian Burnside called the government’s decision “a misuse of power.”

“They waited to cancel his visa until they saw whether he got bail,” Burnside told Southern Cross Broadcasting. “I thought the war against terrorism was an effort to preserve our democracy. But here we are trashing it left, right and center in the name of saving it.”

Haneef, who moved to Australia from Britain last year, is accused of providing reckless support to a terrorist organization by giving his mobile phone SIM card to British suspect Sabeel Ahmed in July 2006.

Prosecutors say the card was used by British suspects Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed — Haneef’s second cousins — and that it was found inside the burned-out Jeep used to attack the airport in Glasgow, Scotland on June 30.

Haneef’s lawyers say he was unaware of his cousins’ alleged involvement in terrorist activities, and only left the SIM card so they could take advantage of extra minutes left on his mobile phone plan.

Magistrate Jacqui Payne agreed, ruling Monday that the government had failed to show any direct link between Haneef and the foiled British plot, and granted him bail.

But Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews stepped in, canceling Haneef’s work visa and ordering he be held at an immigration detention facility in Sydney while the government mounts its case.

Andrews defended his decision saying Monday he had reason to suspect that Haneef “has, or has had an association with persons engaged in criminal activity, namely terrorism, in the U.K.”

Critics said Andrews’ decision — and its timing — appeared to challenge the court’s authority.

“The reason we have an independent court system is so these incredibly important decisions are made for the right reasons, and aren’t subject to political interference,” said Cameron Murphy of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties. “It is not appropriate for the government to just keep him incarcerated because they don’t like the decision of the magistrates court.”

Others accused Andrews of violating Haneef’s right to a fair trial — a charge he denied.

“Nothing that I have done has said anything one way or the other about the innocence or the guilt to be determined by the court of Dr. Haneef,” Andrews told the Seven television network on Tuesday.

“What I have said, though, is that given the information that I have got, and given my responsibility to the national security and the national interest, then I didn’t believe I had any other alternative but to remove his passport.”

Haneef has not entered a plea and is due to face court again on Aug. 31. 

Khaleej Times Online

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Temmuz 2007, 10:40