Haneef's close pal was grilled for five days

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Melbourne, May 31 : Australian investigators used special star chamber powers to force a close friend of Bangalore-based Dr.Mohamed Haneef to give evidence in a secret five-day interrogation by the Australian Crime Commission at the height of the anti-terror investigation last year.

According to The Australian, Mohammed Asif Ali was called before the commission and questioned extensively amid concerns about his links to Dr Haneef, his medical qualifications and suspicious material found on his computer.

The event took place just 24 hours before prosecutors were forced to drop the charge against Dr Haneef, allowing him to leave the country days later,

Dr Haneef was arrested at Brisbane airport as he was attempting to leave the country on July 2 on suspicions he was involved in two foiled terror attacks in London and Glasgow, Scotland.

The Australian Federal Police also questioned Dr Asif Ali, a fellow Gold Coast doctor and a close friend of Haneef, extensively before he was released.

Dr Ali's lawyer, Neil Lawler, told the paper that his client was later issued a summons to appear at the ACC on July 26 - just one day after the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions announced a review of the Haneef case.

Lawler said Dr Asif Ali was questioned for five days, with the sessions running late into the night and taking place over an entire weekend.

He was denied the right to silence and threatened with jail if he did not answer questions.

Mr Lawler said the experience left his client "shocked".

The summons was issued under controversial powers available to the ACC, normally reserved for investigations into serious and organised crime.

Under the powers, Dr Asif Ali was forced to answer the commission's questions and enjoyed only limited defence against self-incrimination. He was warned he faced jail if he revealed details of his evidence. The ACC said last night it was never able to confirm or deny summonses.

Dr Asif Ali and Dr Haneef - along with Dr Haneef's second-cousins, Sabeel and Kafeel Ahmed - were among a group of 13 Indian-trained doctors who applied for medical jobs in Western Australia in 2005-06.

The Australian Medical Association following concerns about their qualifications rejected them. But AMA head Rosanna Capolingua said yesterday at least some of those doctors acquired jobs via other recruiters and could still be practising in Australia.

Dr Asif Ali flew home to India last August.

ANI

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