'Haneef deportation probe may be expanded'

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Melbourne, Dec 1: Incoming Australian attorney-general Robert McClelland has suggested that the investigation into the deportation of Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef, which has turned into a blame game between federal police and prosecutors, may be expanded.

While the Labor party in opposition had promised a judicial inquiry into the affair, Mr McClelland yesterday hinted at a broader inquiry, saying, ''On any measure it looked untidy''.

The officer said he would wait for reports from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the ASIO security service and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) before deciding if further scrutiny was necessary.

''The Haneef case in some ways is an example of a breakdown in effective functioning,'' he told The Weekend Australian.

''We want to get briefings from the agencies first on how they may have modified their practices in light of criticism they have had,'' he said.

The AFP and DPP have blamed each other for the collapse of the case. Mr McClelland said there were broader issues to examine, such as whether there was any incompatibility between the roles of the intelligence agencies in gathering information and the police in developing adequate evidence for a successful prosecution.

The Indian doctor was arrested in July on the charge of ''recklessly'' supporting the terrorist organisation in relation to bombing attacks in London and at Glasgow International Airport. He had spent four weeks behind bars in Brisbane and was deported after his visa was cancelled.

The charge was later dropped after the Director of Public Prosecutions admitted that there was insufficient evidence to sustain a prosecution.

Mr McClelland's comments came the day after The Weekend Australian's Hedley Thomas won the nation's highest journalism award, the Gold Walkley, for exposing the shortcomings of the investigation into Dr Haneef.

Dr Haneef's lawyer, Peter Russo, also told the National Press Club there should be a wholesale review of Australia's anti-terror laws.

''The terrorism laws had gone too far.'' If Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd went ahead with his promised investigation into the Haneef case, the terrorism laws should be reviewed as well, in consultation with police and legal experts, he said.

The lawyer said Dr Haneef and his wife were keen to come back to live in Australia.

''Mohamed is fairly resigned to what has happened to him. He bears no ill will about it,'' he added.

UNI

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