[JURIST] Australia's new independent military prosecutor has called the treatment of Australian Guantanamo detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] "abominable" in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald. Brigadier Lyn McDade [press release] told the Herald, "Quite frankly, I think it's wrong. I don't care what he's done or alleged to have done. I think he's entitled to a trial and a fair one and he is entitled to be charged and dealt with as quickly as is possible. As is anybody." Hicks, who has been held by the US since 2001 when he was captured in Afghanistan, is yet to face charges under the new US military commissions system [JURIST news archive] set up by legislation passed late last year. President Bush has promised that a trial will be held [JURIST report], but has offered no timetable.
The Australian government has been under increasing pressure [JURIST report] to call for Hicks' release, a step which Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch US ally, has been extremely reluctant to take. Over the weekend, however, Howard seemed to signal a shift on Hicks with a comment [Melbourne Age report] that "the acceptability of him being kept in custody diminishes by the day." In an interview [Melbourne Age report] Monday, former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser said that the current Australian government had "totally deserted" Hicks and that his treatment showed how western democracies, including Australia, had "depart(ed) from the rule of law and due process and justice to all citizens as we have" since he was in office in the 1970s. The Sydney Morning Herald has more.