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Liberal Member wants Prime Minister to pressure US to bring David Hicks home and to consider his trial timeframe; Defence Association wants him brought home on captured belligerent parole and then given a control order.



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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Parliamentary Library.

 

It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in an y other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.

 

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AM

 

Thursday 15 February 2007

Liberal Member wants Prime Minister to pressure US to bring David Hicks home and to consider his trial timeframe; Defence Association wants him brought home on captured belligerent parole and then given a control order

 

TONY EASTLEY: Reflecting a wider public concern over the treatment of David Hicks, Coalition MP's want the terror suspect brought to trial quickly, and some are putting their concerns in writing. 

 

One Liberal parliamentarian has gone as far as nominating a date, the end of June, for Mr Hicks' trial to be completed. 

 

And the Defence Association has now written to the Attorney-General, suggesting David Hicks be brought back to Australia and released on parole, an idea the Attorney General, Philip Ruddock has dismissed. 

 

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.  

 

ALEXANDRA KIRK: A number of Coalition MPs have called for David Hicks to be brought home. Western Australian Liberal, Don Randall says he's no bleeding heart, and believes David Hicks is quote "a ratbag", but says he deserves justice.  

 

Mr Randall says Hicks should have been dealt with long before now, blaming lawyers on both sides for the long delay.  

 

He's suggested to the Prime Minister that he pick up the phone to President Bush and use his favoured status to force the US to bring Hicks to trial.  

 

And the backbencher's told AM the Australian terror suspect should face the courts within a couple of months, with the trial completed by the end of June. 

 

He says Mr Howard has undertaken to set some deadlines. 

 

Another Liberal, Michael Johnson has penned his concerns, saying David Hicks should be brought to trial as quickly as possible, citing voter sensitivity in his Brisbane seat.  

 

MICHAEL JOHNSON: Well I've written to the Prime Minister to encourage him to leverage the US administration to bring David Hicks home and to consider his trial timeframe. It is about time that this matter was expedited.  

 

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And the Australian Defence Association's dusted off a little used wartime convention in its call for David Hicks to be brought home. 

 

NEIL JAMES: We've recommended that he brought back to Australia on a captured belligerent parole and put on a control order.  

 

It achieves the same end as continued detention at Guantanamo Bay. It stops him rejoining the fight as a terrorist.  

 

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Executive Director Neil James says releasing Hicks on parole is the easiest solution to negotiate with the United States and the International Committee of the Red Cross as the respective authorised detaining and protecting powers under the Geneva Convention. 

 

NEIL JAMES: Well, he's been detained for five years, which is about the length of time that the longest Australian prisoner of war was detained in World War II.  

 

There's every chance he'll get off at least one of the charges and he may indeed get off the second one and then we're back to square one.  

 

People need to go back to first principles and look at why he's been detained in the first place and like all prisoners of war in previous wars, he's been detained to stop him rejoining the fight.  

 

And if there's another way of achieving that, why keep him detained? 

 

You can tick every box: it's practical, it's humane and it's perfectly legal.  

 

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Attorney-General's been quick to dismiss the call. Philip Ruddock's office says the trial process is underway, David Hicks is in the custody of another country and control orders are issued by a court on the application of the federal police, not the Australian Government. 

 

TONY EASTLEY: Alexandra Kirk reporting and a US military prosecutor has told ABC Radio that David Hicks could be tried in front of a jury within four months that's once charges are laid against him and approved.