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Jailed Perth doctor Suhail Ahmad Khan Durani wins India deportation appeal
A Perth-based Indian doctor convicted of sexually assaulting a patient has won a court battle
to overturn a ministerial decision to deport him on character grounds.
Suhail Ahmad Khan Durani was jailed for more than 18 months for sexually assaulting
a 19-year-old woman while examining her at Royal Perth Hospital’s emergency ward in February 2010.
In May last year, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled Dr Durani could keep his Australian visa
despite his jail term. But former immigration minister Tony Burke overruled that decision and Dr Durani
was detained the day before September’s federal election.
Dr Durani appealed the matter and the full bench of the Federal Court of Australia on Friday delivered a unanimous verdict in his favour.
He was released from the detention centre where he has spent the past 10 months and has had his visa reinstated.
Barrister Shahid Shakur said Dr Durani’s case — like Muhamed Haneef’s — was “a most unfortunate example of misuse of power”.
“Locking up people like Dr Haneef and Dr Durani, who held valid visas and were lawful non-citizens,
not unlawful non-citizens, should be the exception to the rule,” Mr Shakur said.
“Australia is a constitutional democracy, governed by rule of law: mandatory detention
for people who have completed a term of imprisonment is incompatible with those core democratic
purposes. “It should be the courts to determine whether there is a lawful basis to imprison people,
not the minister for immigration as a member of the executive government.”
Mr Shakur said Dr Durani had received double punishment despite maintaining his innocence.
Speaking to reporters after the decision was handed down, Dr Durani said his first goal had
been to be reunited with his wife, who is an Australian citizen, and his five-year-old son.
He said it had been a very tough time for the family, particularly trying to explain to his
boy what was happening. “I’ve got no words. It’s been a long journey,” Dr Durani said. “I’m satisfied with the decision.
“I maintain my innocence but don’t deny my conviction.” Asked about another goal — returning to
practising medicine — Dr Durani said: “We’ll take it step by step”.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison can appeal the decision in the High Court. He was being sought for comment.
'Despicable' doctor jailed for hospital emergency department sex assault
A Royal Perth Hospital doctor has been jailed for almost two and a half years after being found guilty of
sexually assaulting a "sick and vulnerable" female patient in the hospital's emergency department.
Endocrinologist Suhail Ahmed Khan Durani, 35, was last month found guilty on all five counts of sexual
assault against the 19-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
He was today sentenced to two years and four months in custody, but could be free on parole in 14 months.
District Court Judge Allan Fenbury said despite the financial hardship the sentence would impose on
Durani's wife and young boy, his circumstances were not enough to warrant a suspended jail term.
"Two significant features of the case are the vulnerability of the complainant at the time and
the nature of the breach of trust involved in the offending," Judge Fenbury said.
"Your conduct in pretending to professionally examine and then taking sexual advantage
of a sick and vulnerable young woman seeking urgent medical treatment was quite despicable.
"To breach the trust that sick young female patients bestow on those they go to for treatment and care is serious.
"I feel for your family and especially the young boy, but the hardship caused by immediate
imprisonment is not so exceptional as to require departure from what would normally be the sentence warranted by this offending."
During the trial, Judge Fenbury was told Durani twice sexually penetrated the woman with his
fingers and fondled her breasts on three occasions on February 20, while she was being treated
for a diabetic illness. The doctor vigorously denied the claims.
The defence claimed the testimony of the victim, who admitted being a heavy cannabis user, was
unreliable. But the Judge dismissed this argument following the graphic testimony of the victim
and several of Durani's hospital colleagues.
During the trial, Durani described how the allegations had ruined his professional reputation.
His lawyer George Papamihail said his client was "deeply disappointed and shocked with the decision" when the verdict was handed down.
He said his client's imprisonment would have wider implications for not only his wife, who
had little connections in Perth, but his family back in Kashmir, who were the subject of a caste system.
"If he was to go back to Kashmir he would be ostracized," Mr Papamihail told the court.
He said the family had sold their car and was in the process of selling their home and would still be left with a $100,000 debt.
Being jailed was likened to a "death blow" by Mr Papamihail.
However prosecution lawyer Paul Yovich argued Durani had committed five serious sexual offences
and by granting a suspended sentence would send a message that "doctors are punished less" than others.
Outside court Mr Papamihail maintained his client's innocence and said they would forge ahead with the appeal.
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