'Mohamed Haneef can work in Australia'

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Melbourne, Dec 21: Indian born doctor Mohamed Haneef has won his latest court battle to return and work in Australia. The full bench of the Federal Court, sitting in Melbourne, today dismissed an appeal lodged by the Australian Government lawyers against a Justice Jeffrey Spender's decision to reinstate Dr Haneef's visa. The decision was shown on video link in Brisbane.

Chief Justice Michael Black's decision in Melbourne came a month after a one-day hearing of the case in Brisbane. In August, Justice Jeffrey Spender overturned then Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews' decision to cancel the Indian doctor's 457-work visa on character grounds because of his association with alleged UK terror suspects Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed. He ruled that Andrews had made a "jurisdictional error" and should have used a different legal test to cancel the Indian national's visa.

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The decision allows Dr Haneef to return to Australia for work, although the Government can appeal against the decision to the High Court. Even if he regains the right to work in Australia, it is not clear whether Haneef would return, said Peter Russo, his lawyer. His main aim was to clear his name, Russo added.

Russo said that he was frustrated that Federal Immigration Minister Chris Evans had indicated that he might want to consider the court's decision for 28 days before responding. "I find that difficult to understand why ... he has not turned his mind to a position in relation to Haneef's visa because ... the ultimate decision rests with the minister," he said.

Dr Haneef, a registrar at the Gold Coast Hospital, was arrested and charged in July in connection with the Glasgow terror attacks and later deported by the Howard Government, despite the charges being dropped for lack of evidence.

Dr Haneef was arrested at Brisbane Airport on July 2, shortly after the failed UK terrorist plot, but a charge of providing support to terrorism was dropped later. The charges were dropped less than two weeks later after Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions announced there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction.

Dr Haneef has spent most of the past five months at his home in Bangalore, but Russo has repeatedly said that he wants to return to work on the Gold Coast. Dr Haneef is presently in Mecca in Saudi Arabia on the annual pilgrimage, news.com.au reported.

ANI


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