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Holes in police case on Haneef

Brisbane, July 20: Critical information used to brand Mohammed Haneef a terrorist and condemn him to solitary confinement might not be true, it has been revealed.

Haneef’s cellphone SIM card on which the case hinges was not found in the jeep that crashed into the Glasgow airport terminal, as police told court last week, but hundreds of miles away in Liverpool, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

“It’s a shocking mess-up,” said Peter Faris, a lawyer and former head of the government’s National Crime Authority. “You can’t get something that’s so central so wrong.”

The 27-year-old Indian doctor is charged with “recklessly” supporting a terrorist organisation because he left the SIM card with second cousin Sabeel Ahmed when he moved from Britain to Australia last year. Evidence was presented in court suggesting that the SIM card being at the scene of the foiled Glasgow bombing was one of the reasons behind charging him.

Sabeel has been charged in Britain with withholding information that could prevent an act of terrorism. His brother, Kafeel, was at the wheel of the Glasgow jeep and is fighting for life in hospital.

Haneef’s lawyer, Peter Russo, was cautious. “It’s an inconsistency,” Russo said, adding he had not been able to confirm the information. “Court cases aren’t won on one inconsistency.”

But analysis by The Australian of the police affidavit submitted in court and the 142-page record of Haneef’s first police interview reveals more inconsistencies on two significant issues.

The affidavit states that Haneef told the police in his first interview that he lived in Britain with his cousins. Information in the affidavit was considered by immigration minister Kevin Andrews while cancelling the Indian doctor’s visa on the ground of failing the character test. Andrews did not have access to the police record of interview.

The police affidavit states: “On 2 July and 3 July, 2007, Dr Haneef participated in a taped record of interview with the AFP (Australian Federal Police) and stated the following: Whilst in the UK he resided with suspects 1 and 2 (Kafeel and Sabeel), at 13 Bentley Road, Liverpool.”

However, in the record of interview, Haneef tells the police that he had moved out of 13 Bentley Road, Liverpool, when Sabeel subsequently stayed there. “I don’t know exactly how long did he live there for, because I wasn’t staying there then,” the doctor says. Haneef also tells the police he visited Cambridge on two occasions in 2004 and stayed for up to six days with Kafeel.

The police affidavit also asserts that Haneef “had no explanation as to why he did not have a return ticket” from India to Australia. Haneef was trying to leave Australia on July 2 on a one-way ticket.

But the record of interview shows that he gave a detailed explanation. Haneef told the police that as he did not have funds in his Australian bank account, his father-in-law had booked and paid for the one-way ticket with an understanding that “when I go there, we can arrange for the coming back ticket. Because I just got seven days’ leave approved”.

The visa was cancelled hours after Haneef had got bail on Monday, blocking his release. He is now being held in a Brisbane jail.

Federal police commissioner Mick Keelty would not comment on if mistakes had been made. “It’s not for the media to judge, it’s not for me to judge, it’s for the court to judge.”

Andrews, who said he saw no reason to revoke the visa cancellation, added that Haneef’s relative Imran Siddiqui has been given a tourist visa to visit him in jail.

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