The Department of Defense announced today that three charges were approved against Guantanamo detainee David Hicks of Australia who will be tried by military commission. The charges include: conspiracy to commit war crimes; attempted murder by an unprivileged belligerent and aiding the enemy. Hicks is the third Guantanamo detainee charged.
Hicks is alleged to have attended a number of al Qaida terrorist training courses at various camps in Afghanistan, including an advanced course on surveillance, in which he conducted surveillance of the U.S. and British embassies in Kabul, Afghanistan. It is also alleged that after viewing TV news coverage in Pakistan of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the United States, he returned to Afghanistan to rejoin his al Qaida associates to fight against U.S., British, Canadian, Australian, Afghan, and other coalititon forces. It is alleged Hicks armed himself with an AK-47 automatic rifle, ammunition, and grenades to fight against coalition forces.
Specifics of Hicks charges are available at :http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jun2004/d20040610cs.pdf
Information on the other detainees charged is available at: http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2004/nr20040224-0363.html
Hicks is presumed innocent of any criminal charges unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at a military commission. A trial date and commission panel members will be selected at a later time.
Military commission procedures provide for a full and fair trial to include: the presumption of innocence; a requirement for proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; representation by a military defense counsel free of charge with the option to retain a civilian defense counsel at no expense to the U.S. government; an opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses; a prohibition against drawing an adverse inference if an accused chooses not to testify; and an appeal to a review panel. Military commissions have historically been used to try violations of the law of armed conflict and related offenses.
Additionally, based on the specific facts and circumstances of Hicks case: if convicted, the prosecution will not seek the death penalty; the security and intelligence circumstances of Hicks case are such that it would not warrant monitoring of conversations between him and his counsel; Hicks has access to an Australian lawyer with appropriate security clearance as a foreign attorney consultant; subject to any necessary security restrictions, two appropriately cleared family members of Hicks will be able to attend the trial, as well as representatives of the Australian government; if Hicks is convicted, the Australian government, as well as the defense team, may make submissions to the review panel on appeal; and the U.S. and Australian government will continue to work towards putting arrangements in place to transfer Hicks, if convicted, to Australia to serve any penal sentence in accordance with Australian and U.S. law.