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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
British MPs oppose Guantanamo trials
Inmates at Guantanamo Bay
There are at least 680 people being held at Guantanamo Bay

More than 70 MPs from across the political divide have called for two British men currently interned at Guantanamo bay to be repatriated to face trial in Britain.

In a House of Commons motion, the MPs cast doubt as to whether Moazzam Begg and Feroz Abbasi will get a fair trial.

On Monday Foreign Office Minister Chris Mullin said the UK had "strong reservations" about US plans to use military tribunals to try the two men.

Under the proposed trial arrangements it is understood that Mr Begg and Mr Abbasi will be denied the right to choose their own legal representation.

According to the motion, they face a choice between pleading guilty and being given 20 years, or if they fail to do that and are convicted they face the death penalty.

The MPs also raise concern about the mental state of the two men after 18 months of incarceration in cages two metres wide and only 30 minutes of exercise twice a week.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw raised the concerns over the treatment of Mr Begg and Mr Abbasi when he spoke to his US counterpart Colin Powell at the weekend.

In Monday's House of Commons statement Mr Mullin said the government expected the US to abide by international standards for fair trials.

The UK would also make clear its "fundamental opposition" to the death penalty if the issue arose.

Mr Mullin said he expected the US "to meet internationally accepted standards of a fair trial" and the government would "follow the process very carefully".

There are at least 680 suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban members at the US naval base in Cuba.

Legal black hole

US President George W Bush decided on Thursday that six of them, including Britons Mr Begg and Mr Abbasi and Australian David Hicks, should face trial in a military tribunal rather than in a regular court.

The announcement sparked a wave of protest from human rights groups who said the tribunals would be a "legal black hole".

The UK government has already expressed concern about the men's access to lawyers, the standards of evidence and their rights to appeal in the case of any guilty verdicts.

Former cabinet minister and Tory MP Douglas Hogg said that America's reputation would suffer if they proceeded with the trials by tribunal which he described as "wrong" and "potentially unjust".

Mr Mullin responded: "In our view it's strongly in the interests of the US that these trials are conducted in a credible and transparent fashion because it obviously will affect the respect with which the US is held throughout the world."

The minister insisted that the government would not indulge in "megaphone diplomacy" in order to get its point across.



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