THE crucial piece of evidence against the terrorism suspect Mohamed Haneef - that his mobile phone SIM card was found at the scene of a British car bombing - is wrong, the Australian Federal Police have admitted.
The revelation has cast a fresh cloud over police handling of the Haneef case, with scathing criticism coming from Peter Faris, a QC who has been an ardent supporter of anti-terrorism laws, and the Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, expressing concern.
Federal police sources said yesterday it had been confirmed the SIM card was not found at the scene of the Glasgow Airport attack, as prosecutors had alleged during Haneef's bail hearing last weekend.
It was found in the possession of one of Haneef's cousins, Sabeel Ahmed, hundreds of kilometres away in Liverpool. The sources said they had been aware of the error for some time, but no attempt was made to correct the public record.
In Britain, a source close to the investigation confirmed the SIM card was found in Liverpool, and said the Australian police were considered a laughing stock by Britain's Metropolitan Police for allowing "such a major cock-up" to happen. "Australian police have got their wires crossed. This is very embarrassing for them. The police here are laughing at the Australian police, saying, 'What on earth have they done?' [Haneef] is clearly more of a political case than a police case."
The Herald has learnt that the prosecutor at the Brisbane bail hearing, Clive Porritt, of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, even gave the court an explanation when defence lawyers asked why Haneef would have provided his SIM card if he knew it was planned to be used for the purposes of terrorism.
Mr Porritt responded that it had been intended the SIM card would be destroyed in the planned explosion when a Jeep Cherokee was rammed into the doors of at Glasgow Airport.
A spokeswoman for the DPP, asked if Mr Porritt had provided wrong information on the SIM card to the bail hearing, responded: "It is not appropriate for us to comment on matters before the court."
In Bangalore, India, Haneef's wife, Firdous Arshiya, was visited by a junior minister from the Ministry of External Affairs, who assured her the Indian Government would try to ensure that her husband received justice.
"Every day I hear of some new problem that my husband is facing in Australia," she said. "That is why I met the minister to ask that the Indian Government put more pressure on the Australian Government."
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