Feature Article

Australia terror prosecution debacle

[TamilNet, Saturday, 25 August 2007, 00:04 GMT]
In a court decision that is proving to be a major embarrassment for the Australian government, Justice Jeffrey Spender ruled in Brisbane Tuesday that Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews used the wrong criteria ('Jurisdictional Error') when he revoked Dr Haneef's visa. Dr. Haneef was charged on 14 July with providing "reckless support to terrorism" associated with the bombing in Glasgow and London. Several key Australian politicians called for the resignation of the Minister.

Dr Haneef
Dr Mohamed Haneef (Photo: Sydney Morning Herald)
"After this decision, the community is right to have no confidence in minister Andrews or the federal government." Senator Nettle said in a statement. And Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said Mr Andrews should step aside as he had become an "international embarrassment," Australian media reported.

Justice Spender said "parliament could not have intended to enact a law that allowed a minister to oust a person for having an innocent association with someone suspected of criminal conduct..."association" should not include mere social, family or professional relationships.

Time Line: Haneef, Tamil Arrests

"Mere familial interaction, mere social interaction, mere involvement by the provision of professional services, the battered wife scenario, would all result in the person not passing the character test, on the test for which the minister contends," the Justice further said, according to reports.

Mr Andrews stood by his decision and responded: "When I made the decision to cancel Dr Haneef's visa, I made it in the national interest and I stand by that decision," reports added.

On 17th July, in another highly publicized case, Victoria state Supreme Court Judge Bernard Bongiorno, released Aruran Vinayagamoorthy, 33, and Sivarajah Yathavan, 36, two Tamil men arrested and charged with supplying funds to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers, and told the court that if the "principle [normal presumption of innocence] is abandoned or even modified for political expediency, that risks the whole foundation of our criminal justice system."

Australian parliament website charaterized charges on the Tamil detainees as "first non-muslim related" terrorist charges.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Dr Haneef Wednesday released a 378-page transcript of the police all-night interview on 13 July with the Indian Doctor which showed that Mr Andrews had used "highly selective fragments of the police interview that placed Dr Haneef in the worst possible light."

Minister Kevin Andrews
Minister Kevin Andrews
Justice Jeffrey Spender also had criticised Mr Andrews for publicly releasing selective material that had not been placed before the court. Federal Government had earlier not allowed the Federal Court judge Jeffrey Spender, even in closed session, access to its dossier on Dr Haneef, according to legal sources in Brisbane.

Mr. Andrews said that "he fears the release of a police interview transcript could put terrorism investigations in Australia and the UK in jeopardy," and that the Federal Government will appeal the Federal Court ruling overturning his decision to cancel Dr Haneef's visa.


Related Articles:
28.05.07   Sloganeering Terror, Strategizing War

External Links:
NB: News Break on Haneef Brisbane case
WSWS: Australia: Labor joins Howard government in blocking Haneef inquiry
TheAge: Transcript supports Haneef case
BT: Minister 'has to go'
BBC: Judge overturns Haneef visa ban
SMH: Not going according to script
AU: Vinayagamoorthy & Anor v DPP (C'th) [2007] VSC 265
Wiki: Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews


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