Friday, January 12, 2007

Innocent until proven guilty is more than a mantra - Fair Go For David Hicks

Innocent until proven guilty is more than a mantra - Fair Go For David Hicks

JANUARY 11, 2007 - The US military progaganda machine kicked in today, when Colonel Morris Davis, chief prosecutor for the US Office of Military Commissions, dismissed any notion of Australian terror suspect David Hicks, locked in Guantanamo Bay as a "young and naive adventurer."

Hicks, who has today spent five years in detention at Guantanamo Bay, was labelled by the US military as "fully fledged al-Qaeda operative who took orders from Osama bin Laden..." This despits any evidence to support the colonel's claims of Hicks's al-Qaeda connections.

Today, January 11, 2007, 31 year-old David Hicks, from Adelaide, South Australia has begun the sixth year of a nightmare in hell...
Hicks, a Muslim convert has been detained by the US at its naval base in Cuba since January 2002, a month after he was captured with Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

"David Hicks attended basic training, the al-Qaeda basic training, (and) went back for repeated advance courses in terrorism,” Colonel Davis told the corporate media. "He knew and associated with a number of al-Qaeda senior leadership. He conducted surveillance on the US embassy and other embassies. He eventually left Afghanistan and it's my understanding was heading back to Australia when 9/11 happened." Colonel Davis says Hicks, when he heard about 9/11, "said it was a good thing (and) he went back to the battlefield, back to Afghanistan, and reported in to the senior leadership of al-Qaeda and basically said, 'I'm David Hicks and I'm reporting for duty'," said Colonel Davis.

But Hicks's US military-appointed defence lawyer, Major Michael Mori, said he was not aware of any evidence to support the colonel's claims of Hicks's al-Qaeda connections. He also scoffed at the suggestion that his client had translated training manuals for the terror group.

But the charges were dropped after a US Supreme Court ruled in June that military tribunals set up to try Hicks and other Guantanamo Bay inmates were illegal. His Australian lawyer, David McLeod, said the Australian Government must now step in and help the South Australian.

"Our expectation is that, if this Government does nothing, David Hicks will still be there in two years' time awaiting trial," Mr McLeod said on ABC radio.

"A reason for that is Supreme Court challenges to this new military commission brought by other detainees, not necessarily David Hicks... he will be sitting there biding his time, contemplating taking his life, no doubt, because of what we've heard about his mental state."

"David Hicks currently is not facing any charges -- he's not even before any regular legal system."

Mr McLeod said the Australian Government must now step in and help Hicks. Labor says John Howard could push for Hicks to be released on bail and placed under a control order in Australia, whilst the Law Council of Australia president Tim Bugg has criticised the Government's "blind defence" of the commissions.

Hicks pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, aiding the enemy and attempted murder at a military commission hearing in 2004. These charges were dropped when the US Supreme Court ruled last June the military commissions were unlawful. The US government has revamped the commission process and is expected to lay fresh charges soon.

Innocent until proven guilty is more than a mantra. A government is publicly labelling a person a dangerous terrorist. They detain him for years without charge and then claim that it respects the presumption of innocence.

In the past week, the director of prosecutions of the new Australian Military Court, Brigadier Lyn McDade, said Hicks' treatment was abominable and former prime minister Malcolm Fraser said the Government had deserted Hicks. Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty has repeated his call for Mr Hicks to be tried as quickly as possible. Delaying a trial for so long meant that evidence did not remain fresh, Mr Keelty said.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the Australian Government had been in discussions with the US and he expected Mr Hicks to be charged "within a matter of weeks".

Perth Rally : 5 Years in Gitmo! David Hicks Deserves Justice

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