December 11, 2006 12:00am
ATTORNEY-General Philip Ruddock says David Hicks will face new charges
as early as next month.
ATTORNEY-General Philip Ruddock
And Mr Ruddock said the US has assured him the accused terrorist will
receive a fair hearing.
He yesterday said Hicks, an Adelaide-born Muslim convert, was expected
to be charged after January 17, the date new regulations governing the
military commission expected to try him take effect.
His comments came as people rallied in capital cities across Australia,
urging the Federal Government to do more to bring Hicks home.
More than 1000 marched in Sydney, while hundreds took part in protests
in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Canberra to mark the fifth anniversary
of his detention.
Hicks, captured by US forces in Afghanistan five years ago, had
originally pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding
However the charges were struck out in June when the US Supreme Court
ruled the military tribunals were illegal.
He has since languished in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Mr Ruddock said US laws passed in October, providing for a revised
system of military commissions, would take effect by January 17, meaning
Hicks could face new charges in a few weeks.
"The US Attorney-General assured me (last week) his expectation was that
they would be able to charge him shortly after the regulations have been
proclaimed," he said.
Mr Ruddock said he did not know what charges Hicks would face.
"We've sought assurances there'll be a presumption of innocence, that he
will know the evidence that's going to be presented against him, that he
will be effectively represented in the military commission process, that
there are appeals . . . into the civilian court system," he said.
"We are certainly pressing the US and have received certain assurances
from them that a fair trial should be possible under the scheme that
they've legislated for."
Mr Ruddock said he sympathised with Hicks' father, Terry Hicks, who has
not spoken to his son since July.
"I don't think any father should be in the situation where they're
having to defend a child who has gone, perhaps, off the rails in some
way," he said.
"And I think we ought to respect the way in which he has fought in his
Terry Hicks said dates had been set before and he no longer trusted the
"Mr Ruddock has been no help to David's cause -- the American and
Australian governments should be the ones facing court," Mr Hicks said.
"He should be brought home and charged and tried or be set free.
"Mr Ruddock needs to pin down an exact date, otherwise it's just the
same old political spin."
Mr Ruddock said proceedings against Hicks had dragged on largely due to
legal challenges to the process set up to try him.
Amnesty International Australia spokeswoman Katie Wood said: "Today our
leaders should hang their heads in shame over the human rights abuses
they now allow at Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp.
"We're calling on the Government to bring David home and let him face an
Australian court. We're calling on them to close Guantanamo Bay."
David Hicks Case Information