Terror suspect won't get fair trial
11:08 - (SA)
Sydney - Australian-born Taliban fighter David Hicks, who
is being held by US authorities as a suspected terrorist, is
unlikely to receive a fair trial, the head of America's
criminal defence lawyers group said on Tuesday.
US National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers (NACDL)
president Lawrence Goldman said there would be no
confidentiality between lawyers and clients, which is held to
be a basic tenet of legal representation, and that would make
it virtually impossible for a trial to be fair.
The NACDL has advised all its members that they should not
act as civilian defence counsel in the military trials because
it believes the process is unlikely to be fair.
The former poultry process worker from Adelaide has been in
US custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since he was captured
fighting with the Taliban by US troops in Afghanistan in
November 2001. He is claimed by terrorism experts to have
undergone specialist training with the al-Qaeda network.
Al-Qaeda expert Rohan Gunaratna, who has written
extensively about Osama bin Laden's terrorist group and who
initially described Hicks as a "small fry" in the
organisation, now believes he was more than just a foot
"There is more recent information to indicate that he has
undergone more advanced and more specialised training,"
Gunaratna told The Australian newspaper.
"The fact that he received that training should be viewed
seriously because a person does not receive that level of
training unless both he and his trainers had some special
plans for him."
Hicks, who was named last week as one of an initial group
of six detainees eligible to face a US military tribunal, does
not yet have a military-assigned lawyer for his defence.
His family has appointed a civilian legal team on his
behalf, although it appears US authorities may not allow
lawyers access to the trial.
Goldman told ABC radio here that the US administration had
made it clear all conversations between detainees and their
lawyers would be recorded.
"I would be very nervous if I were a client, to tell my
lawyer certain facts that I think could be harmful to my case
or even helpful to my case," he said. "So it becomes an almost
Goldman said the military court was likely to be biased
because the judges, who would probably be senior military
officers would find it difficult to acquit someone whom the
President of the United States has recommended for trial.
"I would not walk into these trials as a defence lawyer
with the confidence that my client would get a fair shake," he
The Australian government says it has been assured Hicks
will be treated fairly.
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