Blame Game Begins Over Haneef Affair

The Age

Friday October 24, 2008

Chris Hammer, Canberra

THE Federal Police has attempted to shift the blame for the botched decision to charge Mohamed Haneef with a terrorism-related count on to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

In a submission to the Clarke inquiry into the affair, the AFP said that while the decision to charge Dr Haneef ultimately rested with police, "the CDPP's legal advice was a fundamental factor in the decision-making process to charge Dr Haneef".

"Prior to the receipt of the advice from the CDPP, the AFP was of the view that there was not enough evidence to charge."

The police submission contrasts with the CDPP's submission made to the inquiry in August. It said that the police had pressured a prosecutor for reassurance that Dr Haneef could be charged.

The key period under dispute is between July 12 last year, when the AFP started briefing Commonwealth prosecutors on possible charges, and July 14, when Dr Haneef was charged.

The police submission conceded that on July 12, the AFP incorrectly told the prosecutors that a mobile phone SIM card belonging to Dr Haneef was found in the possession of Kafeel Ahmed, who was arrested at the site of a failed terrorist attack at Glasgow airport. But it said they issued a correction the next day after receiving fresh information from the British police that the card was in the possession of another man.

They say the updated advice was included in a 49-page written brief that Commonwealth prosecutors studied for several hours on July 13, but that the prosecutors still advised that there was sufficient evidence to charge Dr Haneef.

Dr Haneef was charged the next day.

The police submission said that the prosecutors made two incorrect statements to the court when charging Dr Haneef, including the whereabouts of Dr Haneef's SIM card.

The police said they were not in court, and so were not in an immediate position to correct the prosecutors, and only found out about the incorrect statements through the media.

The police submission said the decision to drop the charge against Dr Haneef 11 days later was also taken by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

The submission revealed that the AFP had briefed then federal attorney-general Philip Ruddock six times during the Haneef investigation, but doesn't detail when the briefings occurred or what Mr Ruddock was told.

© 2008 The Age

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