[JURIST] Australian Prime Minister John Howard [official website] said Friday that he wants Australian-born terror suspect David Hicks [JURIST news archive] to be tried in American courts even after the US Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday struck down military commissions [JURIST report; opinion, PDF] set up to try terror suspects detained at the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. Hicks, captured in Afghanistan by US forces in 2001 with suspected ties to the Taliban, is one of ten Guantanamo Bay detainees who had been charged by a military commission [JURIST news archive]. Howard's government has steadfastly supported the Guantanamo military tribunals, and has refused to lobby for the US government to release Hicks into Australian custody.
In a radio interview [transcript], Howard said that Hicks can not stand trial for terrorism charges in Australia because training or supporting al Qaeda was not illegal under Australian law in 2001. Howard stated:
Well I think he should be tried, and we were quite happy to go along with the military commission procedure because we were told, subject to the changes to it that we had negotiated with the Americans, that it was acceptable. Now the American Supreme Court has decided otherwise. Well that is the end of that matter. That decision has to be accepted and it has been accepted and what the administration must now do is to decide, in our view quickly, what alternative method of trial will be used for the people charged with offences who are being held in Guantanamo Bay and Mr Hicks is one of those. Now it seems on the face of it, and I do need a bit more advice, I've only heard about the decision in the last few hours, it does seem that either that method of trial has to be a court marital or a civilian trial.CNSNews.com has more. The Sydney Morning Herald has local coverage.