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Haj bounty for Haneef: work visa in place
- Once-bitten doc yet to decide on returning to Australia

Bangalore, Dec. 21: An Australian court has reinstated the visa of Mohammed Haneef, vindicating on Id-ul-Zuha the doctor on his way back from Haj with his family.

The 27-year-old Haneef has not yet made up his mind whether to return to the country where he was held in custody on unsubstantiated charges linked to a botched bomb plot in Britain.

Haneef’s brother-in-law Imran Siddiqui told The Telegraph that the doctor had been “quite sure” the Melbourne court would rule in his favour. “He had full faith in the judicial system,” Siddiqui, who spoke to Haneef last evening, said.

Haneef, who left for Mecca with his wife and mother on December 12, is expected back on December 28.

Siddiqui said the court’s decision was only a small victory. “It is still too early to say anything. Though we are happy that his work visa has been reinstated, the federal government may appeal in a higher court.”

But Australian immigration minister Chris Evans said there was no reason to deny the doctor entry.

“Haneef is free to work in Australia,” the minister said. “I formed the judgement that there was no basis for me to seek to move to cancel Haneef’s visa.… Haneef is entitled to return to this country and take up employment in accordance with his visa.”

The doctor, who had been unceremoniously sent back to India after being linked to the failed UK bombings, has yet to decide on returning to Australia, according to his lawyer, Peter Russo.

“I don’t think he wants to put himself in the position where she (his wife Firdous) would have to go through the trauma that she went through when he was first detained,” he said, referring to his client’s arrest on July 2.

Haneef, then a registrar at the Gold Coast Hospital, was picked up from Brisbane airport days after his distant cousins, Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed, were accused in the alleged terror plot in the UK.

The doctor spent 27 days in custody before the charges were dropped. But then immigration minister Kevin Andrews cancelled Haneef’s work visa on character grounds.

The doctor was given a bridge visa to enable him to travel to his home in Bangalore.

The full bench of the federal court in Melbourne, in a “unanimous” decision, today dismissed a government petition challenging an August ruling in favour of the doctor.

“It is a doubly happy Id for us today,” Ashfaq Ahmed, Haneef’s father-in-law, said.

“Today’s Id is special. We got the good news about Haneef’s work visa early this morning. Our family is very happy.”

Ahmed, however, said he was not sure if he wanted his son-in-law to return to Australia. “But the final decision is his (Haneef’s).”

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said she would be “very pleased” to have Haneef back in the state hospital system.

She said the court ruling added “weight to concerns that all may not have been as it should have been in the dealings the Commonwealth government had with Dr Haneef”.

Gold Coast Hospital manager Jeff Hollywood said Haneef’s earlier post had been filled, but he could apply for other positions. “We welcome his expertise and training,” Hollywood said.

Siddiqui said the family expected the Australian government “to compensate for all the mental trauma and financial loss” Haneef had suffered in the last six months.

A prominent Brisbane lawyer, Mark ’Connor, said the doctor had the right to sue the Australian government for wrongful imprisonment and defamation.

He said Haneef had been unemployed since returning to India five months ago. The cancelled work visa effectively barred him from working in most countries in the West.

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