The only Australian being held at Guantanamo Bay will today appear before a US military court to face terrorism charges. David Hicks is the first Guantanamo detainee to be charged in the newly-revised military tribunals. The former version was struck down by the US Supreme Court, which decided the tribunals were overstepping their authority.
It’s unclear whether 31-year old Hicks will enter a guilty plea in return for a reduced sentence. “If he’s convicted the maximum (sentence) is life in prison. As I have stated a couple of times, we don’t intend to argue for life. But we have to see what the conviction is, what he is convicted of,” said prosecuting Colonel Moe Davis.
Hicks, a convert to Islam, is accused of providing material support for terrorism by fighting alongside the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. It’s been agreed that any prison sentence he might serve will be in Australia. Many Australians have criticised their Prime Minister John Howard for not doing enough to secure Hicks repatriation, prompting angry demonstrations.