Row grows over Haneef detention in Australia

Police in Australia are facing criticism over their handling of the case of Mohamed Haneef, the Indian doctor held on suspicion of ties to last month's failed bomb plots in the UK.

Row grows over Haneef detention in Australia
Police in Australia are facing criticism over their handling of the case of Mohamed Haneef, the Indian doctor held on suspicion of ties to last month's failed bomb plots in the UK.

Haneef has spent 22 days in an Australian prison after being charged with providing "support to a terrorist organisation".

On Tuesday Haneef received his first visit from a relative since he was arrested at Brisbane airport trying to leave the country on a flight to India.

Imran Siddiqui, a cousin of Haneef's wife, flew in from India for the visit, bringing photographs of Haneef's baby daughter in India.

"I think those were tears of joy when he saw his daughter," Siddiqui told reporters, referring to what she said was an emotional meeting.

"I told him that we all know that he is innocent."

SIM confusion

The prison visit came as controversy over the case continued to deepen amid confusion over a key piece of evidence - a mobile phone SIM card, once owned by Haneef.

It now appears that the SIM was not found in the car crashed into Glasgow airport on June 30, as prosecutors had previously claimed.

The car was driven by a second cousin of Haneef, Kafeel Amhed, who received severe burns in the Glasgow attack.

But the revelation that the SIM was found instead at the Liverpool home of another cousin, Sabeel Ahmed, did not come to light until almost a week after the prosecution first made the claim in court.

The confusion has provoked criticism over the Australian Federal Police's handling of the case, including from Peter Beattie, the premier of Queensland state, where Haneef is being held.

At the weekend Beattie branded the police the "Keystone Cops" – a reference to the incompetent police force made famous in early Hollywood silent comedies.

That comparison drew an angry response from John Howard, the Australian prime minister.

"To call the Federal Police 'Keystone Cops' is disgraceful," Howard told reporters on Monday.

"The Federal Police are integral to the fight against terrorism in this country."

False reports

Dan Nolan, Al Jazeera's Sydney correspondent, says that adding to the confusion have been a series of incorrect claims about the case made in Australian newspapers, including one that Haneef planned to attack Australia's tallest building, Q1, on Queensland's Gold Coast.

Another report claimed that police officers tampered with evidence by writing names in his diary.

Our correspondent says that while both claims are false, the damage may have already been done with legal experts saying the publicity, misinformation and leaks over the case have damaged any chance of a fair trial.

Last Monday Haneef was granted bail by an Australian magistrate who found no clear link between him and the failed UK bombing plots.

But within hours of that decision the government cancelled his working visa and ordered him to remain in detention on immigration charges pending trial.

Haneef's lawyers say he will appeal the government's decision to cancel his visa at a hearing on August 8.

Al Jazeera and agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Temmuz 2007, 14:23
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