Australian court clears Haneef, family unlikely to sue
Dec 21, 2007 - 4:37:59 PM

Bangalore/Sydney, Dec 21 - A court in Australia Friday cleared the way for Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef to return to his job as registrar in a Gold Coast hospital, leading to double Eid festivities at his home in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.

In a major reprieve, the Australian Federal Court upheld a Brisbane court's order restoring Haneef's work visa.

Haneef - who was incarcerated in Australia, returned to Bangalore in July after charges of terrorism against him were dropped and his visa cancelled - is in Saudi Arabia with his wife and son for the Haj pilgrimage.

His family in Bangalore said they were overjoyed but were unlikely to engage in a legal battle for compensation from the Australian government.

'They plan to come back on Jan 1. I do not know if they will change the plan now. We are all very, very happy,' Haneef's sister-in-law Bisma told IANS.

'It's double Eid for us,' his father-in-law Ashfaq Ahmed told reporters.

'It is left to Haneef and Firdous to decide whether they want go back to Australia,' he added.

The Australian government itself is looking into the issue, it is sensitive and responsive, said Imran Siddique, a cousin of Haneef's wife Firdous Arshiya, when asked whether the family planned to claim damages for wrongly accusing Haneef of terror links, cancelling his work visa and detaining him for 25 days in Brisbane in July.

'Hence, we will wait for the decision of the Australian government, we are not that inclined -,' Siddique told IANS from Mysore, 130 km from Bangalore.

Siddique had gone to Brisbane to help Haneef and returned with him to Bangalore along with Peter Russo, Haneef's Australian lawyer end July.

He said the family was yet to discuss the matter of Haneef's plans and whether he would resume working at the Gold Coast Hospital. 'Also the Australian government will have to come out clearly on whether his job is still on, whether they want him back and related matters.'

DPA adds from Sydney: Haneef's lawyers were delighted that the Federal Court had thrown out the appeal against the reinstatement of his work visa.

Peter Russo said Haneef was not intent on returning but was keen to clear his name by reapplying for a visa.

Russo told ABC Radio 'as time goes by I don't know whether that wish - is as strong as it was when we started'.

He said no decision had been made about whether Haneef would seek compensation.

Australian police had arrested Haneef at Brisbane airport on July 2 as he was boarding a flight to India just days after failed terrorist attacks in Britain.

The charge was dropped after it was decided there was no prospect of securing a conviction against the 27-year-old. Because his visa had been cancelled on character grounds, Haneef gave up his job at the Gold Coast Hospital and returned to India.

Medical Association spokesperson Philip Morris said Haneef would be welcomed back to Queensland to take up his old post at the Gold Coast Hospital.

'When he was here before there was no question about his medical competence or his commitment to care for patients,' Morris said.

The Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions had drawn considerable flak for the embarrassing faux pas in the failed case of the former Gold Coast registrar who had been jailed for three weeks after being charged with supporting a terrorist organisation by 'recklessly' giving his mobile phone SIM card to people planning the London and Glasgow bomb.

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