[JURIST] Australian officials said Monday that Australian Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] could face reduced charges when he goes to trial before new US military commissions, the procedural rules [manual, PDF] for which were promulgated last week. Hicks' original charges [text, PDF; JURIST report], which were brought in 2004, have lapsed but he still faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for providing material support for a terrorist organization. US prosecutors could nonetheless offer him a plea bargain which could result in a reduced sentence, or a jury could find the five years he has served in American custody sufficient time served even if he is found guilty.
Australian Attorney General Phillip Ruddock [official profile] said in early January that his US counterpart Alberto Gonzales had assured him that Hicks would be charged soon after the new military commission rules were published [JURIST report]. 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. Hicks was picked up in Afghanistan while allegedly fighting for the Taliban. US prosecutors claim that he trained at up to four terrorist camps. AAP has more.