Govt under pressure over Guantanamo trials


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02-08-2005 07:39 PM



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02-08-2005 07:39 PM



02-08-2005 08:20 PM

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2005-08-02 19:39:58

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O\'BRIEN, Kerry, (journalist, ABC)



HOWARD, John, (former PM)


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Govt under pressure over Guantanamo trials -

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Govt under pressure over Guantanamo trials

Reporter: Tracy Bowden

KERRY O'BRIEN: The Federal Government is also facing calls to re-think its support of the American
military system that will try Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks. A date has not yet been set for
the trial of the Australian who has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, aiding the
enemy and conspiracy. But, as revealed yesterday, leaked memos from two of the Pentagon's own
military prosecutors suggest that Hicks will face a system with a stacked panel of judges, set up
only to convict. The revelations provoked a further expression of concern from the senior officer
on Australia's military bar, but the Government says the emails have been investigated and their
claims rejected. Shortly we'll speak to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, but first Tracy Bowden
with a brief update.

PAUL WILLEE QC: When you've got the process with the military being the captors, the interrogators,
the people who lay the charges, who prosecute the offences and there is an executive watching over
them but no independent formal appeal process, then that has all the hallmarks of being a fairly
unfair system.

TRACY BOWDEN: Queen's Counsel Captain Paul Willee, the head of Australia's military bar, reflects
widely held legal misgivings about the military tribunal set up to try terrorist suspects at
Guantanamo Bay. Yesterday's disclosure of scathing emails written by military insiders has only
heightened that concern.

PAUL WILLEE QC: If the emails are true, even if the investigation has been carried out, I'm not
sure that it hasn't tainted the process. It certainly highlights the very evils that people were
pointing to in the beginning with that process.

TRACY BOWDEN: Captain Willee's comments, which he stresses are personal views, follow the release
of emails sent by two US military prosecutors. One of them, Captain John Carr wrote to his

"I expected there would be at least a minimal effort to establish a fair process and diligently
prepare cases against significant accused. Instead, I find a half-hearted and disorganised effort
to prosecute fairly low-level accused in a process that appears to be rigged."

TRACY BOWDEN: The Federal Government today tried to play down the significance of the latest

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: Our ambassador spoke again to the Pentagon last night, our time, and
the head of the Military Commission operation said that those allegations had been extensively
investigated over a two-month period.


JOHN HOWARD: Well, by the people against whom the allegations were made.

DAVID McLEOD, DAVID HICKS'S LAWYER: Clearly, this has has been a considerable embarrassment to both
the United States Government and of course, the Department of Defence. It's also a huge
embarrassment, I suspect, to the Australian Government.

TRACY BOWDEN: David Hicks' Australian lawyer, David McLeod, says if the allegations have been
investigated by the Pentagon, he'd like to see the results of that inquiry.

DAVID McLEOD: It's said to have taken some two months of careful investigation and so the
investigation report will obviously be long and detailed, and we ask the Government, we call upon
the Government, to call for a copy of both the investigation and the report.

TRACY BOWDEN: Melbourne barrister Lex Lasry, who was the Australian Law Council's official attorney
at Guantanamo Bay, says the chance of a fair trial for David Hicks is negligible.

LEX LASRY QC: If he can't be put before a proper military justice or civilian justice process in
the United States, then he should be brought back to Australia. No question. The Military
Commission's, for my part as a matter of opinion, are just simply not an option.

DAVID McLEOD: If the military process is determined to proceed, then we would like to see the rules
that apply to military courts martial in America adopted by the Military Commission. It's as simple
as that.