THE lawyer for former terror suspect Mohamed Haneef says the resignation of Australia's top cop should be seized as an opportunity to correct mistakes committed on his watch. Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty is to step down from his role in September. Barrister Stephen Keim represented Indian-born Dr Haneef, who was wrongly charged and detained for a month in 2007 over suspected links to the UK bombings. Dr Haneef is now working in Dubai but is seeking compensation from Australian authorities.
"We think that the news that Mr Keelty is stepping down provides an important opportunity for the Commonwealth Government to correct the built-up mistakes from the past,'' Mr Keim said. "It was a great concern of ours that even after the collapse of the case the AFP did everything they could to attack (Dr Haneef's) reputation.''
He said while the Clarke report into Dr Haneef's case exposed specific flaws with the AFP, the agency's problems went "much deeper''. "The Clarke report revealed that the organisation was just a shemozzle,'' Mr Keim said. "One of the problems with Mr Keelty is that in his public statements over the years he has not shown any ability to acknowledge error on his part or the organisation.''
Mr Keim was publicly criticised by Mr Keelty for his leaking of a 142-page police transcript to the media, but he was later cleared of professional misconduct and given a civil rights award.
He said any overhaul of the AFP needed to look at the powers and resources of the ombudsman to oversee its operation and an improvement in the AFP's release of information to the public.
Mr Keim said the chief's resignation also provided an opportunity to look at the way the AFP dealt with cases involving Australians who potentially faced the death penalty for crimes in another country. He said Scott Rush could have avoided the death penalty had the AFP taken the advice of Rush's family and stopped him from boarding a plane to Bali. One of the so-called Bali Nine, Rush, 23, was arrested at Bali's airport in April 2005 with 1.3kg of heroin taped to his legs and is now on death row.
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