Monday, 26 May 2008

$8m bill for bungled terrorism case

The federal police investigation of events surrounding the bungled Haneef terrorism-support case has so far cost $8.2 million and it's not over yet.

But Australian Federal Police (AFP) commissioner Mick Keelty is adamant not all the money has been spent on pursuing the Indian-born Gold Coast medical registrar who was detained at Brisbane airport last July.

"It is not - believe it it or not - all about Haneef," he told a Senate estimates committee hearing.

The investigation - called Operation Rain - was the Australian response and provision of assistance to UK Metropolitan Police in relation to terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow in July 2007, Mr Keelty said.

"The expenditure of resources in assisting the UK metropolitan police and ensuring any Australian connections were appropriately investigated, in addition to the prevention of similar attacks in Australia, is not only an appropriate response but an obligation for the AFP.

"Our current expenditure on Operation Rain as at May 14, 2008 was $8.2 million."

The sum of $3.2 million was directly attributable to the specific investigation of Dr Haneef and related inquiries, Mr Keelty said.

"Over $5 million is attributable to the investigation of other persons of whom I will not be commenting due to operational sensitivities.

The case against Dr Haneef, charged with terror-support offences, collapsed when the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions admitted there was insufficient evidence to obtain a guilty verdict.

Despite that Dr Haneef was kept in detention by immigration officials, on the orders of the Howard government.

Following a federal court decision, Dr Haneef was released and returned voluntarily to India. The case is the subject of a review, ordered by the Rudd government, by former NSW Supreme Court judge John Clarke.

At its peak, Operation Rain involved 249 AFP officers, 225 Queensland police, 12 officers from the Attorney-General's department, 54 West Australian police, 40 NSW police, six Customs officers, two Northern Territory police, one Tasmanian officer, six translators, four other law enforcement agencies and two UK police posted to Australia.

The AFP had also responded to 29 national security hotline reports generated from Operation Rain, Mr Keelty said.

Preventive activities were not as transparent or readily understood as response to a terror attack, such as the 2002 Bali bombings, although they were equally important.

In some cases preventive operation outcomes were much more desired, he said.

"Operation Rain is an ongoing investigation and is also the subject of the Clarke inquiry commissioned by the government," he said.

"The AFP is providing full cooperation to the Clarke inquiry."


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