Australia checks evidence against Israel

FM Smith doesn't say if similar action will be taken to UK in Dubai hit case.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
March 24, 2010 09:53
1 minute read.
Suspected al-Mabhouh assassins.

Suspected al-Mabhouh assassins 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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An Australian investigation into fake passports used by a suspected hit squad that assassinated a Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai will examine a British report that found evidence that Israel was responsible for forging the documents.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Wednesday that British Foreign Secretary David Miliband offered him the report by the Serious and Organized Crime Agency for use by Australian police in their investigation into four forged Australian passports allegedly used by the suspects.

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Britain took the extraordinary step of expelling an Israeli diplomat for the first time in more than 20 years after concluding there was compelling evidence that Israel was responsible for the use of doctored British passports in the plot to kill Mabhouh in January.

Related: Politically motivated move, blow to intelligence-sharing

Smith declined to say whether his government was likely to take similar action when the Australian investigation concludes. He said he did not know when that investigation would end.

"To make any commentary or remarks about what the United Kingdom government has done would necessarily cut across our own investigation and what decisions we might make," Smith told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

"Suffice to say we are treating this matter very seriously. Israel understands that and when I receive the (Australian) report, we'll make judgments which will be in Australia's national interest," he said.



Miliband told the House of Commons on Tuesday the expelled diplomat, who was not named, was ordered to leave following an investigation into the use of 12 fake UK passports linked to al-Mabhouh's Jan 20. assassination.

Dubai authorities accuse the Mossad of carrying out the killing in a luxury hotel room, and have identified at least 26 suspects from an alleged hit squad.

Smith said there was no evidence that any of the four Australian citizens living in Israel whose identities were stolen were implicated.

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