Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said on Tuesday the latest US court judgment was another step in the proper process of law and there was no need for Australian intervention on behalf of its national.

 

Ruddock's statement came after US District Court Judge Joyce Hens Green ruled that Guantanamo detainees had a right to challenge their detention and status as enemy combatants.

 

Asked if he would now seek Hicks' release, Ruddock told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "No. What we've said is if the United States is proceeding to charge people those issues ought to be dealt with."

 

He said US courts had conflicting decisions on record, and those issues would be resolved through proper legal processes.

 

"What you are seeing in the United States is the proper operation of the rule of law," he said.

 

Slap in face

 

Hicks, a 29-year-old convert to Islam, has been held at the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for three years after being captured by US forces in December 2001 as he allegedly fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan.

 

The former kangaroo hunter has been charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, aiding the enemy and attempted murder.

 

Hicks' father said Green's ruling which deemed military trials at the base unconstitutional, was a "slap in the face" for the US government.

 

"It was good decision, it's a real slap in the face for the Americans, they won't like that," Terry Hicks told ABC radio on Tuesday.

 

Unacceptable

 

"The interrogating, tortures, stress and duress tactics - it won't stand up in a civil court."

Terry Hicks, father of Guantanamo detainee David Hicks

 

But the older Hicks said he was concerned his son would remain incarcerated at the US military base in Cuba while appeals against the decision dragged on for up to three years.

 

"I'd say they'll re-appeal ... it could extend his time at Guantanamo, it could be up to three years." 

 

His father said the US court system was beginning to acknowledge that the methods used against "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo were unacceptable.

 

"The interrogating, tortures, stress and duress tactics - it won't stand up in a civil court," he said.

 

Hicks' US military lawyer Michael Mori was confident the judge's ruling on the legality of the military tribunals would ultimately be upheld.

 

"That day will come," he said. "Unfortunately, there's no way to get back Mr Hicks' life. You're talking about a year-, if not more, long process to get to the Supreme Court to get to a decision."

 

Canberra criticised

 

Another Australian, Mamduh Habib, returned to Australia last week after being released without charge from Guantanamo after almost three years' detention.

 

Mori said Hicks should also be returned, and criticised Canberra for not doing more to secure his repatriation.

 

The Law Council of Australia said the US court's decision added weight to criticism that Guantanamo detainees were being denied due process and basic civil rights.

 

"It also provides another reason for the Australian government to revisit its unqualified support for the current system," council president John North said.