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Pentagon rejects expert testimony for Australian Guantanamo prisoner

[JURIST] The Pentagon has refused to allow expert witnesses to testify at the upcoming military commission [JURIST news archive] hearing for Australian terror suspect David Hicks [BBC profile; advocacy website; JURIST news archive], a decision that his US military lawyer says increases the likelihood that he will not receive a fair trial. Major Michael Mori [Ninemsn profile] said he retained five experts in international law, including a former judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and a US Defense Department expert, to testify on behalf of his client. Mori said the Pentagon's refusal to let them testify - presumably on international detention and trial standards for war criminals and POWs - makes Hicks' recent request for British citizenship [JURIST report] even more critical and the lawyer has filed an application to stay the proceedings while Britain continues to evaluate Hicks' petition. Hicks had applied for British citizenship in the hopes that the UK will press for his release from Guantanamo, but a decision on his application has not yet been made. Mori said the UK government is just stalling and that his client is qualified for British citizenship. Earlier this week the US Supreme Court said it would consider whether military commissions are lawful [JURIST report], but the Pentagon has so far decided to move forward [JURIST report] with the Hicks prosecution rather than wait for the high court's decision. Proceedings are set to begin November 18 [JURIST report]. From Australia, the Herald Sun has local coverage.

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