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Hicks unlikely to get fair trial, lawyer says -

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Broadcast: 15/09/2004

Hicks unlikely to get fair trial, lawyer says

Reporter: John Stewart

TONY JONES: An independent legal report has concluded that Australian Taliban fighter David Hicks
will not receive a fair trial in Guantanamo Bay.

But the Federal Government says it won't intervene apart from questioning minor procedural matters.

Today, a former Liberal Party leader joined those calling for Hicks to be returned to Australia.

John Stewart reports.

JOHN STEWART: Melbourne QC Lex Lasry travelled to Cuba last month to witness the beginning of David
Hicks' hearing before a United States military commission.

In a report written for the Law Council of Australia, Mr Lasry argues that the commission will not
deliver an independent or fair trial.

LEX LASRY, LAW COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA: This military commission is not independent, it is a creation
of the executive of the US Government and controlled by it.

It is not set up under legislation like courts are.

It has no independence from the US Department of Defence.

JOHN STEWART: Among those critical of the military commission hearings are former NSW Liberal Party
leader and attorney-general John Dowd.

JOHN DOWD, FORMER LIBERAL PARTY LEADER: Clearly, the Australian Government is not prepared to
challenge the government of the United States on this issue.

We give more rights to child molesters and mass murderers than this man is getting as a prisoner of

JOHN STEWART: The Law Council is not only concerned about the independence of the military
commission, but also with the rules of evidence.

LEX LASRY: Evidence that might be probative to a reasonable person is in, that may mean hear say
evidence with the maker of the original incriminating statement not available to give evidence,
coerced confessions, identification evidence and all sorts of odd identifications which wouldn't
comply with the ordinary rules.

JOHN STEWART: The Federal Government says the military commissions are needed because sensitive
information involving terrorists cannot be heard in public, civilian courts.

PHILIP RUDDOCK, ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We raised with the US some technical issues that our advisors
brought to our attention.

I believe they can be remedied and are not reasons for aborting the process.

MARK LATHAM, OPPOSITION LEADER: We thought he should have been here in the first place and our
legal systems would have been the appropriate way to do things rather than giving our legal
sovereignty away to another country.

JOHN STEWART: The Law Council says that if David Hicks is sentenced by the military commission, the
two years he has already served at Guantanamo Bay will not count as part of his final jail term.

John Stewart, Lateline.