Law group condemns Hicks ‘charade’

Australian lawyers hit out at Canberra’s “shameful” support of Guantanamo trial.

Hicks was the first suspect tried by a US military court at Guantanamo Bay [AP]
Hicks was the first suspect tried by a US military court at Guantanamo Bay [AP]

Hicks, 31, is serving out his prison sentence in Adelaide after pleading guilty at the Guantanamo trial in March to charges that he was trained by and associated with a terrorist organisation.


He was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001 and is due for release in December under a plea deal after spending more than five years at Guantanamo Bay.




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Law Council of Australia: Link to full report on Hicks trial and other material related to the case

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The week-long trial – the first of a terror suspect held at Guantanamo Bay – saw Hicks found guilty of providing material support to al-Qaeda.


During the trial, the Law Council sent lawyer Lex Lasry to Cuba as an independent observer of the court proceedings.


In his report, he wrote that the trial “was a charade” that had been “designed to lay a veneer of due process over a political and pragmatic bargain”.


There had been no benefit from the trial process, the report said, and “no ground can be claimed to have been made in the so-called war on terror”.


“Many of the requisite rules and procedures were not in place and there was a degree of improvisation by the judge,” Lasry wrote.


“Ultimately, there has been no benefit from this process – only the corrosion of the rule of law.”




Hicks was held for five years at the
US naval base at Guantanamo Bay [AP] 

He went on to note that since an agreement to transfer Hicks to an Australian jail had been agreed to before the trial, the judge and legal teams held crucial discussions behind closed doors.


“Much of what was occurring was contrived and being done for the public and media consumption,” the council’s report said.


Referring to the plea bargain that saw Hicks return to Australia to serve out the remainder of his sentence, Lasry said aspects of the deal appeared to be “an attempt to protect the credibility and interests of the US government”.


He said the Australian government had never sufficiently concerned itself with the legitimacy of the charges brought by the US court against Hicks.


“Australia‘s international standing and moral authority has been diminished by its support of a process so obviously at odds with the rule of law,” the report said.


“Their support for this process has been shameful,” it concluded.


Releasing the council’s report into the Hicks trial, Lasry and Tim Bugg, the council president, said there were parallels between the case and that facing Mohamed Haneef, the Indian doctor held on suspicion of ties to failed bomb plots in the UK.


Bugg said the government’s decision to revoke Haneef’s visa to keep him in detention hours after magistrates had granted him bail raised concerns that the issue of anti-terrorism was being “used for political advantage”.


“There’s an Alice-in-Wonderland quality to both these cases – first the sentence, then the verdict,” Bugg said. “Mr Hicks and Dr Haneef both know what that feels like.”

Source: News Agencies


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