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Govt under fire after Australian found guilty on terrorism charges in Kazakhstan

Govt under fire after Australian found guilty on terrorism charges in Kazakhstan

Reporter: Michael Vincent

KERRY O'BRIEN: Tonight the extraordinary story of the first Australian to be convicted of terrorism
after September 11, details of whose case are now being revealed for the first time.

In October 2001, Noorpolat Abdulla, a 31-year-old Australian citizen, was convicted of preparing a
terrorist attack in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, in Central Asia.

Denied consular representation, he was sentenced to 15 years in jail by a closed court.

Since his conviction, his family, which maintains the father of two is innocent, have lobbied
quietly for his release.

Now, they've gone public with their disquiet at the Australian Government's handling of the case.

They claim the Government did not do enough to ensure an open and fair hearing and say it's left
the former Adelaide resident to rot in a prison camp straight out of Stalin's gulag.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs maintains it has done everything possible and is supporting
an application for clemency.

This special report from Michael Vincent.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Twenty years ago, the Abdulla family came to Australia to begin a new life.

The Australian Government accepted them as skilled migrants.

They had come from impoverished western China where their ethnic minority has been brutally

ZULFIYA ADBULLA, SISTER: In our heart we are so relieved to live in Australia.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Now with their son languishing in an overseas prison, convicted behind closed
doors of terrorism, the Abdulla family is appealing for the Australian Government to secure his

ZULFIYA ADBULLA: Well, it's really frustrating because I keep thinking -- until now we keep
thinking that our government can do something for him.

best possible assistance we can for any Australian citizen that finds themselves in trouble with
the law.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Noorpolat Abdulla became an Australian citizen in 1986 and began studying
electronic engineering at TAFE in Adelaide.

But he never lost his passion for the plight of his family's people, the Uighurs, who are being

RABIYA ABDULLA, WIFE: Chinese people killed many Uighur young people without any evidence.

They executed them, they put them in prison.

Uighur people couldn't do anything.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Muslims with their own traditions and customs who claim western China as their

They call it Eastern Turkistan.

After more than a decade in Australia, Noorpolat Abdulla returned there to marry his childhood
sweetheart, Rabiya.

RABIYA ABDULLA: He was my husband, also my best friend.

We grew up in the same neighbourhood.

When we talk, we always talk about our childhood.

MICHAEL VINCENT: They had a son and after several years in Adelaide moved back to central Asia, not
to his homeland, but neighbouring Kazakhstan where Noorpolat Abdulla went into business as a wool

In his spare time, he used his English language skills to help fellow Uighur refugees escaping
Chinese persecution.

RABIYA ABDULLA: He was just working like a translator.

MICHAEL VINCENT: He was helping people who had escaped from Xinjiang with their documents with the
United Nations, translating?

RABIYA ABDULLA: Yes, yes, that's all he did.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Kazakh authorities were under pressure from China to crack down on Uighur

After two Kazakh police were shot dead in September 2000, Noorpolat Abdulla and about 100 other
people were rounded up for questioning.

Rabiya Abdulla hasn't seen her husband since he was arrested.

Police later raided their home where they allegedly found two grenades, one bearing Noorpolat
Abdulla's thumbprint.

RABIYA ABDULLA: They search all the house and even the ceilings.

And then they searched the backyard While they were searching the backyard, they told me they found
two grenades under the dog's house.


Yes, they told me they act from the KGB.


These were the secret police?


MICHAEL VINCENT: The Abdulla family maintains that the Kazakh authorities fabricated the trial

Police even claimed they had a witness who could link Noorpolat Abdulla with Osama bin Laden.

These were the secret police?

(laughs) No, never.


MICHAEL VINCENT: The witness making the bin Laden claim disappeared before the trials.

In fact, the judge was so unimpressed by the evidence, it was sent back to the police for

Noorpolat Abdulla's lawyer was so optimistic that on September 9, 2001, two days before the attacks
on the United States, he wrote to Australian officials.

EXCERPT FROM LAWYER'S LETTER: "I have to inform you that the prosecutor's office yesterday decided
to send the Although they assured us they would refuse their accusations and grant amnesty with
immediate release from custody.

MICHAEL VINCENT: But Noorpolat Abdulla was never released.

In an unexpected legal twist, he was convicted after his second trial in October 2001 and sentenced
to 15 years' jail.

Meanwhile, Noorpolat's family, some of whom visited him in prison soon after, were shocked by his

ZUBATYRA SHAMSEDEN: They torture him.

They just looked at Australian passport and spit on it and said, "You think you are Australian
citizen and Westerner -- you come from western country so you can do everything you want?"

MICHAEL VINCENT: He is now locked away in an isolated prison camp that was once part of Stalin's

Australian consular officials have reported on the appalling conditions.

EXCERPT FROM CONSULAR PRISON VISIT REPORT: There was an incident a few months ago in which 10
prisoners in protest at the harshness of the conditions.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Noorpolat Abdulla has told Australian consular officials who have visited him that
he's been beaten, held in a cage in the cold and made to stand still for 14 hours.

Bruce Billson, the parliamentary secretary responsible for Australians in prisons overseas sees no
grounds to intervene.

BRUCE BILLSON: In the last, most recent visit to Mr Abdulla there was no concerns expressed about
his treatment.

He seemed well, given the circumstance.

KAY DANES: It's a case of deja vu for me.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Kay Danes can empathise with Noorpolat Abdulla's plight.

Four years ago, she and her husband spent 11 months in jail in Laos.

They were convicted of gem smuggling by a closed court, a charge they continue to strongly deny.

KAY DANES: When we were taken by secret police, they said the same things to us.

Before you go to visit with your embassy, you're threatened, in a lot of cases, you're brutalised.

They convince you thoroughly that they can do anything.

MICHAEL VINCENT: The Danes were only released and pardoned after intense lobbying by Foreign
Minister Alexander Downer.

These days, Kay Danes runs a support group for prisoners held in foreign jails and she has strong
views about the Australian Government's position on Noorpolat Abdulla.

KAY DANES: He's got like the trifecta.

He's been labelled a terrorist, he's a Muslim and he's non-Anglo-Saxon.

BRUCE BILLSON: There's about 200 Australian citizens in jails overseas at this time.

We take every one of those individual's cases very seriously.

MICHAEL VINCENT: This is no solace to Noorpolat Abdulla's father, Mohamed.

MOHAMAD ABULLA, FATHER (TRANSLATION): They won't bring my son home.

The Australian Government They are not interested to find out the truth because they didn't follow
up his case.

Now we are very disappointed.

MICHAEL VINCENT: However, the Australian Government says it doesn't have a get-out-of-jail-free
card for its citizens who are in prisons overseas.

But in Noorpolat Abdulla's case, the Government supports a family appeal for clemency.

BRUCE BILLSON: They've sought clemency.

We've supported that clemency application.

That's yet to be determined by the Kazakhstan authorities and we are following it through,
encouraging a favourable consideration of that clemency application.

MICHAEL VINCENT: But this is news to the Abdulla family as the Government has failed to tell them
or his lawyer about his development.

Meanwhile, it's been lonely wait for Rabiya Abdulla and her family.

For her children, their father is a photo -- a memory.

RABIYA ABDULLA: These were the secret police?

I can't say to them their father is in prison because they are not old enough to understand the
political situation.

MICHAEL VINCENT: You can't bring yourself to tell them?


I can't, no.

But when they're old enough, they will understand.

I'm sure they will understand.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Michael Vincent with that report.

States, ACCC turn focus on College of Surgeons

States, ACCC turn focus on College of Surgeons

Reporter: Mary Gearin

KERRY O'BRIEN: It appears, on the surface at least, to be one of the last great monopolies -- one
that can artificially control the law of supply and demand.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons has traditionally been the professional body that
decides the number of doctors who join its elite ranks.

But now three State governments, under pressure to cut waiting times for surgery, are threatening
legal action against the college, claiming it is artificially restricting the number of surgeons
being trained.

The complaint has rekindled the interest of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission,
which is keen to ensure that the college's training practices are not designed to protect the
income level of its members.

The college will be meeting representatives of all Australian health departments on Wednesday.

Mary Gearin reports.

MARY GEARIN: For many, this is the pre-eminent medical career.

Surgeons accept the onerous responsibility of cutting into bodies to save or improve lives.

For that, they earn the gratitude of patients, the respect of society and a pretty good quid.

It was a path in which Paul Paddle looked set to excel very quickly, becoming top surgical
undergraduate from Melbourne University this year.

DR PAUL PADDLE, INTERN, ST VINCENT'S HOSPITAL, MELBOURNE: For me, I've always had a passion for

I've always had a passion for the theatre, obviously, using my hands, having a clinical skill in my
hands as well as the approach to surgery.

The fact that you have a problem, you see a solution, design that solution, play an active part in
that solution and hopefully have good outcomes at the end.

MARY GEARIN: But while the 25-year-old passed the national tests to become a trainee surgeon, Dr
Paddle didn't make the cut to stay in Victoria and was told he'd have to leave to be accredited.

DR PAUL PADDLE: For me and for the college, it seemed there is an emphasis put on staying where you
are most supported, developing a relationship with your teaching hospital, with the rotating
hospitals, and having a good working relationship.

For me, I feel that I am working on that and have developed that here in Victoria.

MARY GEARIN: Dr Paddle has decided not to move, and now will spend the next year doing exactly the
same basic level tasks he would have been doing otherwise.

They just won't count towards his accreditation as a surgeon.


Paul was the top surgical student from the University of Melbourne.

He has expressed a strong desire to do surgery.

He's been given a job here at St Vincent's.

We were looking forward to him being one of our leading trainees.

And the College are saying that he can only become a trainee if he leaves Victoria.

enough funding so that there's enough operations being performed, there's enough supervision, and
that the rosters these trainees are doing are going to actually train them in surgery and not just
train them in a way that provides a service commitment to the hospital but perhaps isn't going to
give them the surgical skills they need to progress through the program.

MARK WESTCOTT: That's simply not true.

We have three trainees at this hospital who we are employing next year in the same positions that
they would be employed in if they were to be accredited.

They've met all the entry requirements that the college have put in place.

They're excellent candidates.

They've got a job here at St Vincent's and they're denying them accreditation.

So the positions are there, the funding is there.

BRONWYN PIKE, VICTORIAN HEALTH MINISTER: This is not a matter of funding.

We have the resources and we've got throughput there.

This is rather about the College of Surgeons making a determination that they will keep a lid on
the number of people who they'll accredit.

MARY GEARIN: St Vincent's is not the only unlucky hospital.

While there was a 20 per cent increase in trainee positions nationally, just 51 places were
allocated for Victoria's 65 successful applicants and New South Wales got 17 fewer places than it

The rest, like Paul Paddle, were told to go interstate.

PROFESSOR GUY MADDERN: This, of course, has been happening for many years.

Doctors in surgery have been trained in country hospitals in Victoria and New South Wales, despite
the fact that they might be Melbourne or Sydney-based.

And that's been considered a perfectly appropriate thing to do.

MARK WESTCOTT: At basic training level, we are given a breadth of exposure, intensive teaching in
the basic sciences, and there's not a need to move interstate to get that.

We have the equal of any other teaching here at St Vincent's.

GRAEME SAMUEL, ACCC CHAIRMAN: We want to know why it is that the college of surgeons is saying you
have proceeded through your training, the hospital which is prepared to employ you who has the
available places for you to do it, obviously has the demand for their services and yet you were
imposing a constraint.

We want to understand why that was so.

On the surface, it would not appear to be acting in the interests of the public.

MARY GEARIN: At the heart of this matter is the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and its
power to decide which and how many doctors become surgeons.

ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel is familiar with this issue.

Years ago, with the National Competition Council, he helped instill competition in the college's
training process after some tough negotiations.

And last year the ACCC completed another review which, he says, puts limits on the college's power.

GRAEME SAMUEL: No, it's not a monopoly.

The condition are that they must be transparent in their process, they must be objective, they must
be fair, they should undertake consultation with major stakeholders -- in particular, State
Government health departments -- to ensure that it is the public interest that is paramount in
determining the number of surgeons that are trained for qualified surgery, not artificial
constraints being imposed on the number of places available.

MARY GEARIN: And the college says it's keeping to those conditions, it's just demanding more
funding to maintain standards.

PROFESSOR GUY MADDERN: It's not always understood what is required to develop a surgeon and to
develop the skills you need and there may be some confusion within the hospital about what is

MARY GEARIN: But is the restriction of trainee numbers just an excuse for a well-paid closed shop?

GRAEME SAMUEL: If we detected that there were other influences being brought to bear, such as
restricting the number of surgeons that might be available to provide services which can, in the
end, mean that the existing surgeons are able to charge higher fees for their services, which is
the cost to their health system, then clearly we would have concerns if that was occurring.

PROFESSOR GUY MADDERN: I think that, as I mentioned earlier, the 20 per cent increase in places has
been one of the college responses to this need.

In addition to that, I think the safe working hours has been a factor that neither government nor
the college fully appreciated its impact on staffing requirements.

MARY GEARIN: Privately, some surgeons believe the ACCC did not go far enough to curb the college's

States are now considering legal action if the college doesn't satisfy their requirements and are
pointing to the option of accrediting universities or other bodies to authorise traineeships.

BRONWYN PIKE: People will begin to ask the questions -- if we can't have our training supervised
and sorted out by the College of Surgeons, let's see who can actually offer this kind of

GRAEME SAMUEL: Well, the ultimate remedy, of course, is to revoke the authorisations that we've
given them.

That would then leave RACS open to potential legal action under the Trade Practices Act.

Now, that's a pretty significant remedy.

It's a pretty significant action to take.

MARY GEARIN: Meanwhile, surgeons say something must happen before talented proteges lose too much
valuable time and hospitals miss out on too many surgeons.

MARK WESTCOTT: We have actively promoted surgical education here at St Vincent's.

We see it as an important part of the future of this hospital in attracting and retaining the best
junior doctors and training them as best they can.

We feel we're being penalised for promoting and providing such a good teaching service by having
many of our best candidates taken from this hospital.

KERRY O'BRIEN: I guess we'll follow the ACCC's interest from there.

Mary Gearin with that report.

Johnny Warren's example an inspiration for soccer's future

Johnny Warren's example an inspiration for soccer's future

Reporter: Peter Wilkins

KERRY O'BRIEN: For years, Australian soccer has been promising a great deal and delivering far

More juniors play the game than any other sport but at the senior level, it's been dogged by
factionalism, nepotism and lack of international team success.

A new hierarchy, led by prominent businessman Frank Lowy, has introduced a rare sense of optimism
into the code with a raft of sweeping changes.

But that optimism has been tempered by the death of the sport's greatest ambassador in Australia,
Johnny Warren.

Over 1,500 people paid their respects to the former Socceroo captain and commentator today at the
first ever state funeral in NSW for a sporting identity.

Part of the Johnny Warren vision was a strong national competition leading to establishing links
with Asia and a national team capable of winning soccer's holy grail, the World Cup.

Peter Wilkins looks at how close Australian soccer is to achieving that vision.

PETER WILKINS: The world game has only ever seen to have one foot in Australia.

But Australian soccer has never presented a more united front for change.

On one hand, with the universal respect for one of the sport's most passionate advocates, Johnny


He was aspirational, he was visionary.

I think it's now our responsibility to make that dream come alive.

PETER WILKINS: On the other, the quest to find a formula for success.

JACK REILLY, FORMER SOCCEROO: This is not a question of people fighting with each other any more,
like we've been doing for the last 30 years.

This is total cooperation to ensure the success of the world game in this country.

PETER WILKINS: That 30 years marks the first and last World Cup qualification for the Socceroos and
the length of time Johnny Warren spent trying to prove the game wasn't wog ball and deserved a
better place in the pantheon of Australian sport.

So what was his special characteristic, do you think, that soccer should take forward?

ANDY HARPER, FOOTBALL COMMENTATOR: Well, never say no and never accept the status quo simply
because it is the status quo.

I mean, he spent 30 years being told that he was a second-class citizen and that there was
something strange about him because he liked the world game of football, and he refused to accept


I've met a lot of people in this game with fire in their belly, but it's been misdirected.

MINISTER, ST ANDREW'S CATHEDRAL: Johnny Warren was a very good player of football, but he was far
above all others in putting back in the game so much more than he took out of it.

PETER WILKINS: The sad passing of Johnny Warren coincides with the symbolic casting off of the last
vestiges of the old order of Soccer Australia, which was characterised by self-interest, nepotism
and ethnic tensions.

JOHN O'NEILL: Soccer Australia is done and dusted.

We are winding up the company in the next couple of weeks.

It is part of a sad chapter in the history of the game.

PETER WILKINS: The new regime of business tycoon Frank Lowy and former rugby boss John O'Neill has
taken full control in the wake of the Crawford investigation into the ills of the game.

In a rare environment, the sport is bathed in the clear water of optimism.

TOM DOUMANIS, PRESIDENT, SOCCER NSW: We have never had a competition of what is being presented to
the Australian public at the moment.

JOHN O'NEILL: This is the last throw of the dice and therefore the optimism is, I think, tempered
with pragmatism.

PETER WILKINS: That pragmatism emanates from the parlous financial state of the game and the
expectation about the new-look eight-team A league, with one club per city or regional centre, to
kick off in August next year.

Private owners are gambling big bucks on its success.

WALTER BUGNO; The people who have put their hands up and the people that have put their hands in
their pockets to contribute to the start are all behind one common vision and one common dream and
that is, "let's realise the potential that this beautiful game really has.

NICK TANA, CHAIRMAN, PERTH GLORY: We use some very simple, I suppose, issues that became
cornerstone for us.

PETER WILKINS: Nick Tana's Perth Glory is a proven model.

NICK TANA: Sound, colour, movement and it all revolved around a game of soccer.

We made the game a full entertainment package on match day so that even if the game by chance on
that particular day didn't work out and didn't excite people, the day still left a memorable
impression simply because they got something out of it.

PETER WILKINS: Former Soccer Australia president David Hill was unable to dismantle the old guard
and thinks the Lowy team is getting it right, though with some reservations.

DAVID HILL, FORMER CHAIRMAN, SOCCER AUSTRALIA: The next stage is they've got to create a sense of
public ownership, public tribalism in those clubs.

That's the next big task.

If they don't do that, it won't work.

WALTER BUGNO: We have to offer a package that transcends borders, and by that I mean it goes beyond
following your own code, but creating a united view of a city.

PETER WILKINS: At the Johnny Warren Cup final in Sydney's west, opinions were divided.

SPECTATOR #1: Having one Sydney team -- I think it is a good idea and hopefully bring all the fans

SPECTATOR #2: We would barrack for them from our lounge room whenever they're on television, but
actually going there, it's just too difficult, too difficult.

PETER WILKINS: Part of the Johnny Warren vision was the development of quality home-grown players,
rather than relying on star imported players to prop up a team.

WALTER BUGNO: You know, what Johnny said was he didn't want the new league, the new A league to
become a superannuation fund for old players, and we agree with that.

JACK REILLY: Let's keep all the young players that we have been producing en masse over the last
few years in this country here, to play at a level that might be the equivalent of mid to high
first division in England, Seria B in Italy.

Don't let's have sites that are beyond that at this point in time.

PETER WILKINS: Then there's Asia.

TOM DOUMANIS: We are the only sport that can actually make inroads into Asia.

DAVID HILL: I never saw it as essential as Johnny did, and also I don't think it's going to work.

PETER WILKINS: Integration with Asian football teams was high on the Johnny Warren list.

JOHN O'NEILL: It will be a transaction that transforms the game in this country.

DAVID HILL: There have been attempts for more than 30 years to integrate Australia with Asia.

Asia doesn't want us.

That's just a political reality we have got to accept.

JOHN O'NEILL: Some of my predecessors have a reputation of having tried to kick the door in with
Asia and say, "Hey, we're here.

We're the Aussies.

Let's go."

That's not how we're playing it.

It's gently, softly.

PETER WILKINS: A life-long lover of the Brazilian game of skill and passion, the beating drums
poignantly farewell Johnny Warren, with his 74 Socceroo team-mates as pall bearers.

His legacy alive in the thinking of many current protagonists -- NICK TANA: From my point of view,
his legacy is the A league, is his absolute legacy insofar as we now have to make it work, if for
no other reason than Johnny Warren.

ANDY HARPER: The global tide is coming -- it's already come.

It is now time for Australians, as Johnny has been saying for the last 20-odd years, to embrace
that reality, stop kidding ourselves and harness it.

thinking of many current protagonists. From my pint point of view, his legacy is the A league and
we have to make it work, if for no other reason than Johnny Warren. The time has come. It is now
time for Australians, as Johnny has been saying for the last 20-odd years, to embrace it, stop
kidding ourselves and harness it. # You will never walk alone ... # Peter Wilkins with that report.
And that's the program for tonight.