The Guardian 7 March, 2007

More delays in justice for David Hicks

The US military lawyer representing Australian Guantánamo Bay detainee David Hicks says he may be removed from the case. The move would further delay proceeding in his case. Major Michael Mori has been threatened by the US military’s chief prosecutor with charges under the US code of military justice.

Major Mori has been accused of breaching Article 88 of the military code, which prohibits contemptuous language against the US President, Vice-President, Secretary of State and Congress. In an interview on ABC Radio’s AM program, Major Mori said, "When the prosecutor uses this tactic of using criminal charges against someone’s lawyer, it really could lead to that lawyer having been removed from the case because there’s a potential conflict: is the lawyer acting in the best interests of David, in this case, or am I acting in the best interests of myself.

"It will involve other people to weigh in and unfortunately it’s not going to be a speedy thing to get David another lawyer down at Guantánamo. It’s going to be difficult to accomplish this just before the first hearing in 30 days, and may cause a roadblock to that happening. It’s very hard to predict."

Previously Major Mori also noted that the dropping of all original charges — including a charge of attempted murder — against Hicks was an admission by the US he had been held without justification for five years.

"The material support [of terrorism] charge has never existed in the laws of war", he said. "It was created in 2006 and the US is applying this offence to David retrospectively even though Australian ministers have said that is inappropriate.

"After five years the US has not charged David with a single war crime. David has no hope of facing a fair trial, which would have been provided to an American a long time ago."

Hicks’ Australian lawyer David McLeod pointed out that if claims by the Howard Government that the charges against David were not retrospective he should have already been tried before a US federal court.

It was also revealed last week that the leading commission prosecutor on David Hicks’ case, Colonel Francis Gilligan, was covering Judge Susan Crawford’s senior legal advisor in her previous post as chief judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. The judge also worked with Vice-President Dick Cheney when he was secretary of defence to George Bush senior.

Amnesty International campaign

Australian citizen David Hicks has been detained in Guantánamo Bay for nearly five years. Draft charges against Mr Hicks and others have been announced under the new US Military Commissions Act 2006.

Amnesty International believes the commissions established under this act are inconsistent with international standards of fairness and the rule of law. AI’s position remains that David Hicks should be brought home and given a fair trial. The Australian Government must act now to bring David Hicks home to face a fair trial or be released.

Take action now. Voice your concern. Here’s a sample letter you can use:

Dear Prime Minister,

I urge you to intervene in the case of Australian David Hicks, who has been detained for five years in the US-run detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, without trial.

Prime Minister, as a leader of the democratic world that is challenged with addressing the threat of terrorism while also upholding the rule of law and respect for human rights, you have the duty to end this travesty of injustice in relation to one of your country’s citizens.

Bring David Hicks home. Try him in Australia and, if the Australian justice system can find no ground or evidence to prosecute him, then David Hicks must be released. It is that simple.

The camp in Guantánamo Bay is a legal black hole designed to put detainees outside the rule of law and the US Administration beyond the rule of law. It must be shut down. The detainees held there should be either released or, if they are suspected of having committed a recognisably criminal offence, they should be charged immediately and tried in fair proceedings.

I call on you to bring David Hicks home to either face prosecution or be released; to oppose the use of torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment; and to call for the closure of the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay.

Yours sincerely,

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