Sydney, July 28 (IANS) Indian doctor Muhammad Haneef was Saturday allowed to leave Australia by a late night flight, but the government has refused to reinstate his 457 work visa even though it has dropped terrorism charges against him.
Haneef, 27, who was held July 2 in connection with the British terror plot, is boarding the 11.55 p.m. flight home from Brisbane following Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Kevin Andrews’ decision to allow him to leave Australia.
After he was released Friday from his 25-day incarceration, Haneef has been homesick and pining to go home to his family in Bangalore, according to his lawyer Peter Russo.
The Australian government Friday absolved him of charges of supporting terrorism amid demands that those behind the tragedy of errors must quit and that the Indian doctor be sent home honourably.
Immigration Minister Andrews, who had cancelled Haneef’s visa hours after he was granted bail by a Brisbane Magistrate July 16, said the visa remained cancelled.
Haneef, a Gold Coast hospital registrar, was Friday cleared of any involvement in the botched attacks in Glasgow and London. Soon after, he was released from the high security Wolston Correctional Centre in Brisbane and sent into residential detention.
The immigration minister said Haneef’s lawyers had contacted his department asking if the doctor could leave Australia as soon as possible.
Haneef’s lawyer has lodged an appeal against the minister’s decision to cancel his client’s visa in the Brisbane Federal Court, with a hearing scheduled for Aug 8.
Andrews told newspersons in Melbourne, “After taking advice, including from the Australian Federal Police, I have indicated that the commonwealth has no objection to Haneef leaving Australia. Indeed the effect of the visa cancellation is that he should remove himself, he should depart Australia in any event.”
The minister said, “The solicitor-general has advised me that despite the charge being withdrawn by the director of public prosecutions, it would still be open to me on the material now available – that is with the charge having been withdrawn – to come to the same conclusion to cancel the visa which I did originally.
“Accordingly, the solicitor-general has advised me that the current proceedings in the Federal Court he believes will fail,” Andrews said, adding, “Accordingly, I do not propose to change my decision and the commonwealth will continue to resist this appeal in the Federal Court.”
Despite the charge being dropped, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty said the investigation was still continuing.
The AFP has admitted that there were irregularities in evidence and there was no prospect of conviction and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has acknowledged making “mistakes”, but no one has taken responsibility for the blunders.
There has been no apology to Haneef from those responsible for the failures in his case. But pressure is building up from the wider Australian community and opposition political parties for an independent inquiry and there are moves for a public interest litigation to be lodged against the bungling.
The spotlight is also moving to Federal Attorney General Phillip Ruddock and the immigration minister for them to be held accountable.