More Indian Doctors Questioned in Australia as UK Terror Plot Inquiry Widens

by Gopalan on  July 6, 2007 at 6:14 PM Hospital News   - G J E 4
More Indian Doctors Questioned in Australia as UK Terror Plot Inquiry Widens
Indian doctors continue to bear the brunt of police inquiries as focus shifted to Australia.

Investigators trying to unravel the hands behind the foiled terror attacks in UK raided two hospitals in Western Australia and also quizzed five doctors of foreign origin, four of them Indian.

However, WA Premier Alan Carpenter said he did not want to see a backlash against overseas-trained doctors.

"There is nothing that has been presented to us by the police that would lead us to believe that we have got issues with our overseas trained doctors, Indian-trained or otherwise," he said.

Federal police also are combing through 31,000 documents - some of them in foreign languages - seized in the raids, including on laptop computers.

The raids follow this week's arrest of Gold Coast Hospital registrar Mohammed Haneef, an Indian national who was recruited by Queensland Health from Liverpool, England.

Dr Haneef was detained at the request of British police in connection with the foiled bombings at Glasgow airport and outside a London nightclub five days ago.

Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said today several items had been taken by police for further examination, including mobile phones and laptop computers.

Those questioned were all linked to each other, he said.

"The linkages are with people who are known to each other and that's prompting the further inquiries," he said.

"This is not about doctors. These are people who are of similar nationalities, and the warrants that were executed in WA were in Kalgoorlie last night and Royal Perth Hospital this afternoon."

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty said the doctors interviewed by police were foreign-trained and had worked in Britain.

He urged Australians not to be concerned about the medical profession. "What we want to do is just reassure people this is not an investigation into the medical practitioners per se. It's an investigation in support of the investigation by the London Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism command," Keelty said.

Seven people have been arrested in Britain over the attacks, all of them doctors or with medical links.

Mr Ruddock said the AFP and WA police had been working in close cooperation and were liaising closely with other Australian authorities and the UK.

"It should be emphasised that a presumption of innocence exists in every police inquiry. No one has been arrested, charged or detained in relation to these inquiries," he said.

"There is no suggestion of any threat to the people of WA and the Australian government has received no information which would result in an increased threat.

"As this is an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

He said the national terrorism alert remained at medium, as it had been since 2001.

The AFP has been given until Monday night to hold Dr Haneef in Queensland during which time it will peruse a huge number of documents seized during the Australian raids.

"Obviously (the documents) take some time to work through, particularly if they're in a foreign language," Keelty said.

WA Premier Alan Carpenter stressed, "I would not like to see a common slur against our Indian or other overseas-trained doctors because of what's happening in Britain or what's going on with the investigation in Brisbane. That would be very, very regrettable."

Still, he added, he expected the federal government to review the screening process for migrants to Australia if necessary.

Source: Medindia

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