ID :
Thu, 08/21/2008 - 16:14
Auther :

Prosecutors pressurised to charge Haneef without full evidence

Melbourne, Aug 20 (PTI) Prosecutors in the Mohamed Haneef probe were under "extreme pressure" from Australian Federal Police to charge the Indian doctor and had no access to vital evidence to judge the strength of the case against him, apublic inquiry commission has been told.

In a submission to the John Clarke inquiry into the bungled case of the 28-year-old medic wrongly accused of terrorism, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (C.D.P.P.) has disclosed how its officers were not supplied with basic information, including Haneef's interview record,before appearing in court to contest his bail application.

"The submission concedes one of its Brisbane-based prosecutors improperly advised A.F.P. that Haneef could be charged and that advice, initially given verbally, was later issued in writing by the CDPP following a request from theA.F.P.," it said.

"C.D.P.P. accepts that Haneef was charged following advice given by C.D.P.P.," the submission said, according to media reports here. However, C.D.P.P. qualified its mistake, saying the officer identified "a number of weaknesses in thecase and deficiencies in the evidence gathered to date".

C.D.P.P. also claimed that officer misunderstood advice from C.D.P.P.'s head office and felt subject to "extremepressure" to reassure investigators.

The Indian doctor was arrested on July 2 last year in connection with the botched terror plots in London and Glasgow before being released on July 27 as the case against himcollapsed.

"C.D.P.P. Brisbane case officer has said that he felt an unspoken but extreme pressure to provide positive reassurance to police that they were lawfully entitled to charge Haneef in circumstances where he would normally refrain from providingadvice," the submission said.

The Director of Public Prosecutions said its advice was issued on the expectation -- created by A.F.P. -- that "gaps in the evidence" against Haneef would be filled in by theongoing police investigations in Australia and Britain.

The submission describes a "hothouse" environment inside A.F.P.'s Brisbane headquarters as investigators raced to make the case against Haneef, who was being detained on newlyminted, and poorly understood, counter-terrorism laws.

C.D.P.P. also appears to take issue with public comments by A.F.P. Commissioner Mick Keelty. It claims that on July 12 last year -- 10 days after Haneef's arrest at Brisbane airport -- Keelty told then Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions Damian Bugg QC that the evidence against Haneef was not strong enough but that the investigation wascontinuing.

Rod Hodgson of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, which is acting for Haneef, said it was clear C.D.P.P. was "kept in the dark" by A.F.P. "It seems D.P.P. were provided with incomplete,selective and misleading information," he said.

C.D.P.P. admitted putting two errors of fact before the court: that Haneef's SIM card had been found in the burning jeep that his cousin Kafeel drove to Glasgow airport and thathe had resided in Britain with people connected to the attack.

C.D.P.P., in its defence, said its case officer "did not have the benefit of a comprehensive statement of facts whichis usually provided by police in these circumstances".

The A.F.P. declined to comment.