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Hicks arrainged for war crimes; Japanese PM admits sex trade.

Hicks arrainged for war crimes; Japanese PM admits sex trade.David Hicks will be arraigned for war crimes before a US military tribunal enacted at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba at 1pm this afternoon. Hicks, 31, is charged with providing material support for al-Qa'ida during the US led conflict in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime and track down associates of bin Laden's group. In a previous case tried before the Supreme Court (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld), it was declared that "material support' is not in itself a war crime. The US, however, has amended provisions in order to include that charge as a violation.

Hicks, an Australian national, is the first Guantanamo detainee to face the newly formulated tribunal system. The previous tribunal was overturned by the Hamdan decision, causing Congress to amend and enact various legislations in response (see previous report on Hicks here). Hicks could face a life sentence, however, the chief prosecutor for the tribunals, Air Force Col. Moe Davis, has suggested they would recommend a 20 year sentence. There have also been discussions regarding a plea agreement in return for a reduced sentence.

Hicks arrainged for war crimes; Japanese PM admits sex trade.There has been criticism expressed by various human rights groups regarding the validity and transparency of the war crimes tribunal established to try Guantanamo detainees. Reuters is quoting officials from Amnesty International as stating that; "These trials threaten to cut corners in pursuit of a few convictions and add to the injustice that the Guantanamo detention facility has come to symbolize." Amnesty also criticizes the ex post facto nature of the new regulations, which "backdate the war" to allow prosecution for crimes committed before September 11th, 2001.

In the US legal system, lawyers in the case of Al Odah v. US raise "substantial doubt" about the access to the appeal system available to detainees. Lawyers in Al Odah also express reservations regarding access to "a neutral decision-maker" in the tribunal hearings, a sentiment echoed by Amnesty International.

Hicks arrainged for war crimes; Japanese PM admits sex trade.In other news, the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has expressed "sympathy toward the comfort women and apologize for the situation". Abe has faced mounting criticism for denying Japan had forced woman into brothels during World War II.

Mr. Abe stopped short of alleging Tokyo's responsibility in officially sponsoring the brothels.

UPDATE: According to a report issued by Reuters, Hicks has made claims he was “sodomized, beaten, and subject to forced injections while in U.S. custody”. Hicks also stated that, while satisfied with his legal counsel, he would wish to have further representation to reach parity with the tribunal system. More as this case develops.

UPDATE: The AP is reporting that Hick's plead guilty. The Defense Department has not released press materials at their site for commissions at Gitmo (see right).

The Washington Post has details on Hicks here.

SCOTUSblog has details on Al Odah et al here.

BBC world service has been commenting extensively on the Hicks trial this morning and has coverage here.

AP notes on Abe here.



Daniel Graeber

Daniel Graeber is a writer for United Press International covering Iraq, Afghanistan and the broader Levant. He has published works on international and constitutional law pertaining to US terrorism cases and on child soldiers. His first major work, entitled The United States and Israel: The Implications of Alignment, is featured in the text, Strategic Interests in the Middle East: Opposition or Support for US Foreign Policy. He holds a MA in Diplomacy and International Conflict Management from Norwich University, where his focus was international relations theory, international law, and the role of non-state actors.

Areas of Focus:International law; Middle East; Government and Politics; non-state actors