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Australia AG mulls toughening terror law to strengthen presumption against bail

[JURIST] Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock [official profile] said Tuesday that the Australian government is considering whether to toughen existing terror laws following a Monday ruling by a magistrate granting bail to UK terror suspect Dr. Mohammad Haneef [JURIST news archive]. Immigration and Citizenship Minister Kevin Andrews [official website] subsequently revoked Haneef's work visa and placed Haneef under immigration detention to effectively block the bail order. The move was sharply criticized by lawyers groups and activists [JURIST report]. During an interview [recorded video, WMV] on Australian ABC-TV Lateline Ruddock said that current laws, which include a presumption against bail for terrorist suspects, were not operating as the government had anticipated. He also refused to provide more details on what evidence the Australian government has connecting Haneef with providing material support to the failed UK car bomb attacks [JURIST report], saying that the information cannot be divulged under law because it pertains to national security. Haneef, who is not facing charges in the UK, is believed to have left a subscriber identity module [Wikipedia backgrounder] with his second cousin, one of the alleged bombers, when he left the UK almost a year ago.

Also Tuesday, Supreme Court of Victoria [official website] Justice Bernard Bongiorno appeared to wade into the bail debate while granting bail to two alleged Tamil Tiger supporters [Melbourne Age report], insisting that suspects are innocent of crimes until proven guilty and that "If that principle's abandoned or modified for political expediency, we risk the legal foundation of our whole criminal justice system." ABC News has more.

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