18 Jan. 2007

An Utter Disgrace

David Hick's lawyer speaks out on the USA's planned new terrorism trial rules, which will allow "convicted terrorists" to be imprisoned or put to death using hearsay evidence or coerced testimony:
Mr Hicks's military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, says the hearing will be inferior to the standards of a US military court martial and he believes the new rules will not allow a fair hearing.

"We will not provide the same rules and protection that has to be provided to an American," he said.

"If they want to use a fair system they could use the US court martial system - if it's good enough to try US soldiers accused of murder and rape in Iraq why isn't it good enough for David Hicks?"

He has also criticised their retrospective nature.

"A law has been passed in 2006 that is being applied retroactively to someone for conduct five years ago," he said.

"That's not acceptable.

"Even the Australian ministers have said creating legislation now and applying it to David retroactively is inappropriate, and yet that's exactly what the United States is doing to David, which we would not accept for Americans."

Major Mori says he expects the guidelines to be challenged.

But he says by the time they are, Mr Hicks could have spent nine or 10 years in Guantanamo Bay without trial.

Major Mori has urged Australia's Attorney-General Philip Ruddock not to accept the new rules.

"Unfortunately what we've seen in the past under the illegal system is that the Attorney-General just went right along with whatever his American counterparts told him and didn't exercise any independent judgement," he said.

"Yet will that happen again? Will he be fooled twice? That's the question."
Meanwhile Mr Hicks's Australian lawyer has also criticised the chorus of US and Australian officials claiming there will soon be new charges against Mr Hicks:
"They clearly know more than the detainees and their defence lawyers do," he said.

"It's just further evidence that this is nothing more than an extension of the arm of executive government operating in a way that... if the Russians did it during the Cold War you'd never hear the end of it."
The Labour Party is calling on the Federal Government not to accept the new rules.

The bottom line is that these new laws are just another time-wasting tactic by the morally bankrupt Bush administration.
[Hicks's Australian lawyer] says the US Supreme Court will again strike down the military commission process, although that might not happen for another two or three years.

"Although those seeking convictions and long prison sentences for the detainees and masquerading that as somehow or another assisting detainees know the outcome of their position, what lies ahead for David is long, lengthy further delays with no certain outcome," he said.
Our government's complicity in this outrage is utterly disgraceful.