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Preliminary court hearing looms for Hicks -

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Preliminary court hearing looms for Hicks

Broadcast: 08/03/2007

Reporter: Leigh Sales

Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks will face a preliminary court hearing at Guantanamo
Bay in less than a fortnight.


TONY JONES: In 12 days' time David Hicks will make his first public appearance in almost three
years. March 20 will be the day he faces a preliminary court hearing at Guantanamo Bay. Hicks' case
will also get a hearing in an Australian court. A judge has agreed to hear a case against the
Federal Government over the handling of the Hicks affair.

LEIGH SALES: In less than two weeks David Hicks will face a preliminary hearing with a full trial
due to start around July. His lawyers are expecting he'll plead not guilty, scuttling the Federal
Government's hopes he'll strike a plea bargain and bring the saga to an end. The Government took a
blow in the Federal Court today. It's granted David Hicks a right to plead his case that the
Government should be forced to bring him home. Justice Brian Tamberlin ordered a hearing as soon as
possible saying the case raises "...important constitutional questions as to the relationship of the
judiciary and the executive...the protection of individual liberty and the national interest."

JOHN NORTH, HICKS' LAWYER: This is a major step forward for David Hicks. We now have a court that
will look at his conditions and the fact he's been put in Guantanamo Bay.

LEIGH SALES: The Hicks' lawyers may call the Attorney-General Philip Ruddock or the Foreign
Minister Alexander Downer, as witnesses. Even though the Hicks' team has won this first stage of
the Australian legal battle there's almost certainly no way to avoid the hearing at Guantanamo Bay
on March 20. It'll be the first time independent observers and David Hicks' parents have seen him
since 2004. Last night, the US ambassador to Australia said the five-year delay in the Hicks case
actually served his interest.

ROBERT MCCALLUM, US AMBASSADOR: It can give you all sorts of different opportunities to wage what I
call 'law fare' against the person that's holding you.

LEIGH SALES: The ambassador says the delay may help Hicks because witnesses may have forgotten