[JURIST] Australian Prime Minister John Howard [official profile] said Monday that the Australian government will put more pressure on the US to expedite the trial of Australian Guantanamo detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] when US Vice President Dick Cheney [official profile] arrives in Australia on Tuesday for a two-day visit. Speaking to Australian television, Howard called for a speedy trial [interview transcript] so Hicks could return to Australia by the end of the year, saying:
I will be pressing the Vice President as strongly as the circumstances allow for the trial to take place without any further delay. Now we are very unhappy that it's taken this long...Australians want him brought to trial and the truth or otherwise of the allegations, which are very serious allegations, tested before the Military Commission, that's what they want and that's what we want.Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer [official profile] told an Australian television network Sunday that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates assured him that Hicks will be transferred to Australia [AP report] to serve his sentence if he is convicted before the end of the year. Last May, the Australian government said it had signed an agreement [JURIST report] with the US that would allow Hicks to apply for a transfer to an Australian prison if he were convicted at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive].
Hicks is one of three high profile Guantanamo prisoners facing new charges [JURIST report] announced by the US earlier this month. The original charges against Hicks, Canadian Omar Khadr and Yemeni Salim Hamdan [Trial Watch profiles] and other detainees had to be dropped after the US Supreme Court ruled the original military commissions system was unconstitutional as initially established by presidential order [JURIST report]. Hicks was picked up in Afghanistan in 2001 while allegedly fighting for the Taliban. US prosecutors claim that he trained at up to four terrorist camps. Reuters has more.