Thursday, February 17, 2005

Habib's shrink sacked

What was expert witness psychiatrist, Sydney University Professor Christopher Tennant, thinking when he went public to "substantiate" Mamdouh Habib's claims of torture?

CHRISTOPHER TENNANT: Well, he has evidence of having been, you know, exposed to very significant and unpleasant events, probably torture in that he was significantly depressed and had post traumatic stress disorder.

JAYNE-MAREE SEDGMAN: Professor Tennant says he then asked a colleague, a physician, to examine Mr Habib for physical indications of torture. He says the doctor confirmed the presence of cigarette burns along with old bruising on one thigh.

The Professor says it was the Government's rejection of that notion that prompted his decision to reveal what he'd found. He says he knew by speaking out, he was breaching doctor-patient confidentiality, but says he had good reasons for doing so.

CHRISTOPHER TENNANT: In technical terms, yes I did, but I did try to contact, you know, Mr Hopper and through him, Mr Habib and was unable to do so. And you know, after, like, considerable deliberation I thought at this point in time Mr Habib's version of events warranted at least some substantiation.

So, Mr Habib was in such a state – sad, suffering PTSD, with cigarette burns (exactly how the hell it was worked out that the burns were from cigarettes or who was wielding the butts at the time I don't know) and had an old bruise on his thigh - that Professor Tennant felt obliged to disregard the sanctity of doctor-patient confidentiality. Don't make me laugh, this is a professor with a political axe to grind. He saw a chance to score some points against the Howard government and took it, Habib's fragile mental state be damned.

But, it's always possible there might be more to Habib's abduction and torture claims than the more skeptical amongst us are willing to admit. After all, he's not the first to claim to have been abducted and probed by the yellow uniformed. These abductees have suffered horribly, if not silently.


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