An Indian-born former Perth doctor convicted of sexually assaulting a patient walked free from immigration detention yesterday after having his right to live in Australia reinstated.
Suhail Durani said he would fight to have his right to practise as a doctor restored after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ruled that his skilled independent visa, which allows him to reside permanently in Australia, should be reinstated after it was cancelled by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship.
Mr Durani was sentenced to two years and four months jail in July 2011 after being convicted of five charges over the sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman at Royal Perth Hospital's emergency ward in February 2010.
But when he was released from jail in February, Mr Durani was placed in immigration detention.
In a decision handed down yesterday, tribunal deputy president Stanley Hotop recognised Mr Durani had a "substantial criminal record" and did not pass a "character test", factors which triggered a statutory discretion to cancel his visa.
But Mr Hotop accepted the offences were wholly out of character and it was most unlikely Mr Durani would commit any other serious offence.
He also accepted if Mr Durani's visa was cancelled, he would be separated indefinitely from his four-year-old son and his wife, who are both Australian.
"That ongoing separation is likely to have a substantial detrimental effect on the child's social, emotional and cognitive development," Mr Hotop said. After he was freed yesterday, Mr Durani said he was relieved to be reunited with his family and would continue the battle to clear his name and return to practise as a doctor.
Mr Durani said his registration to practise had lapsed and he would need to re-apply.
"I have always maintained my innocence," Mr Durani said. "I just want to be with my family. It has been a long journey from prison to the detention centre."
Mr Durani's lawyer, Shahid Shakur, said the case was being investigated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and an application to allow his client to practise would be considered by the Medical Board of Australia.
Mr Shakur said Mr Durani also wanted his position in a specialist training program reinstated and was investigating seeking leave to appeal against his sex assault convictions in the High Court.
" "A four-year-old boy can have his father back," Mr Shakur said.