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US assures Australia that Hicks will not face death penalty in new military trial

[JURIST] Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock told Australian TV [Sky News Australia report] Saturday that he has received assurances from the US government that it will not seek the death penalty in an anticipated new military trial of Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive]. Legal proceedings against Hicks were suspended earlier this year after the US Supreme Court ruled in June in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld [JURIST document] that military commissions established by the President to try Hicks and other accused terror suspects at Guantanamo were not authorized by law. In an effort to gain Congressional endorsement of Guantanamo trials the Bush administration is currently drafting a revised plan for military commissions [JURIST report] loosely based on military courts-martial [JURIST report]. The US did not seek the death penalty against Hicks [JURIST report] in the original proceeding.

Ruddock said earlier this month that he would press for Hick's return [JURIST report] if the US process against him is not restarted by November. Hicks has been solitary confinement for the past five months and his US military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, says he health is deteriorating [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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