Saturday, July 21, 2007

liars or incompetents?

Apparently Mohamed Haneef's wife is asking that her husband be given a fair trial in Australia. Is this now possible, given the obvious politicization of the case by the Howard government?

I've just read this piece by James Farrell written a few days ago, which also points to the Scott Parkin parallels, the main one being the acquiescence of the opposition. I'm still hoping that Labor will finally realize that this case has been so badly handled that they won't be electorally damaged by making a stand.

Farrell looks at a 7.30 Report interview with Kevin Andrews, just after the government's visa decision. Kerry O'Brien asks the essential question - if the AFP haven't got a substantial enough case to oppose bail before a magistrate, how is it that a government minister, acting on information by the same AFP, can decide that Haneef is of sufficiently bad character to have his visa revoked? Andrews dodges the issue by arguing that these are parallel inquiries - as if Andrews' inquiry, based on the evidence before her, into the fitness of Haneef to remain in Australia has nothing whatever to do with the magistrate's inquiry, based on the evidence before her, into the fitness of Haneef to be released into the public on bail.

Of course, this could be dismissed as a difference in interpretation [leaving aside the undermining of judicial process effected by Andrews and the government], but it became much more egregious when it was revealed that even the weak case presented by the AFP in court contained, apparently, substantial errors of fact - or at least highly problematic claims. There are three that come to mind. The AFP's affidavit, presented to the court, claimed that Haneef had stated that he resided with 2 terrorist suspects in Britain, whereas Haneef's testimony revealed that he said no such thing, and that his relationship with terrorist suspect Kafeel Ahmed was quite tenuous. The only question at issue here is whether this was a piece of inadvertance by the AFP, or an inept lie. The affidavit also claimed that Haneef was trying to leave Australia on a one-way ticket when arrested, and that he had no explanation for the one-way ticket. The transcript of interview with Haneef does provide an explanation, and this has since been further elaborated by Haneef's father-in-law, who bought the ticket himself. The third and most serious falsehood was that the SIM card which is so central to Haneef's arrest and imprisonment was found not in the Jeep Cherokee in Glasgow, but with Sabeel Ahmed in Liverpool. In my earlier post I wasn't sure of the source or veracity of this claim, but on reading this ABC piece I find that the source was in fact the police in London, and apparently now the AFP have admitted this to be true. So it would seem that, unless the AFP has other information we don't know about, Haneef has no case to answer. However, the AFP do have a case to answer.

Now - it's getting hard to keep up with this, as I have other commitments and have just come down with a nasty case of impetigo - there have been some odd developments since my last post. One was a story that the AFP were claiming Haneef might've been involved in a plot to blow up some Gold Coast buildings. It sounded totally absurd to me but when i told a good friend about it she immediately became worried - maybe there was really something in their case against Haneef. This is what makes me so mad - a smokescreen is created, and many people immediately imagine there's fire. However, now Keelty has come out and said this Gold Coast rumour didn't come from the AFP and is incorrect.

Interestingly, the Australian Law council is trying to pressure the Immigration Minister to grant Haneef a temporary bridging visa so that he can be released into the community, but since the only reason Andrews took away the guy’s visa was to keep him locked up [or to deport him before things got too embarrassing], there seems little chance of that, even though it's now clear that statements made in the documents relating to the cancellation of the visa are false. However, these falsehoods would, I supect, make it almost impossible for the Federal Court not to overturn the government's decision on August 8. I very much look forward to that decision.

Andrew Bartlett has a lot of interesting things to say on this case, including concerns about the sweeping powers of the Immigration Minister. These powers have been abused in the recent past and they're being abused now.

I should also comment on the shameful complaints of Howard, Downer et al about media and lawyer involvement in this case. Where would be without such involvement? We're not mushrooms. Duncan Kerr and others have been forthcoming in their praise for outspoken lawyers and journos, and it seems many labor MPs are squirming at the opposition's official silence. How long?



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