Friday, December 17, 2010

Wrongful arrest of Indian doctor by bungling Australian federal cops leads to compensation claim

A DOCTOR wrongly accused of terrorism hopes to gain "practical recognition" of the suffering he went through during his incarceration.

Indian-born Dr Mohamed Haneef has returned to Australia with his wife and three-year-daughter for compensation talks with the Commonwealth on Monday and Tuesday.

The compensation claim stems from his wrongful detention by Australian Federal Police in July 2007.

Dr Haneef was held in custody for 12 days before being charged with recklessly giving support to a terrorist organisation when his mobile phone SIM card was linked to a terrorist attack in the UK the same year.

The charges were later dropped as prosecutors admitted bungling the case and an independent inquiry cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Dr Haneef, who was working at the Gold Coast Hospital when he was arrested, is seeking damages including for lost earnings, the damage to his reputation and the emotional stress he endured.

Dr Haneef, who now practises in the United Arab Emirates, said his career had been vastly interrupted by the ordeal.

"This mediation process is all about some practical recognition of how this has affected my family, of me, my reputation internationally and my career," he said in a statement before appearing at a press conference in Brisbane this morning.

"The ordeal has been terrible for me and my family and my career, which I was really enjoying at the Gold Coast Hospital."

His lawyer, Maurice Blackburn partner Rod Hodgson, would not reveal the size of the compensation sought.

But he said it was "significant" and reflected the "terrible injustice" done to him, including his wrongful imprisonment, terrorism charge, damage to reputation internationally and economic loss from the interruption to his medical career.

"We're hopeful that the outcome of the mediation will draw a line under what has been a very regrettable incident for Australia's long held reputation as a great place for skilled people from overseas to live and work," he said in a statement.

The mediation will be chaired by former judge Tony Fitzgerald QC.


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