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Hicks Given 7 Year Sentence by Tribunal.

Hicks Given 7 Year Sentence by Tribunal.David M. Hicks, the 31 year old Australian national being held at Gauntanamo Bay, will be returned to his home country within two months. Hicks plead guilty to charges of providing material support to al-Qa'ida on Monday. He is the first person to face the new tribunal system to try Gauntanamo detainees and his trial was seen as the first test of that process.

The Bush administration viewed the trial as a new start to the system in place in Guantanamo. The Supreme Court had ruled that the previous military commission there was unconstitutional. Hicks' guilty plea, however, accelerated the trial and largely undermined a process seen as an opportunity to showcase the newly enacted Military Commissions Act (MCA). A complete trial would have brought to light some issues regarding coerced testimony, witness testimonial, and other litigious issues.

The MCA indoctrinated tribunal started with contentious issues almost immediately. Civilian defense lawyers were asked to sign on to the military rules prior to their completion. From this, tribunal judges dismissed Joshua Dratel, one of Hicks' defense attorneys. Dratel was excused for refusal to sign onto regulations that had yet been finalized.

Hicks guilty plea must be formally accepted by tribunal judges. According to the regulations set forth by the US, Hicks must provide details under oath of his material support in order to explain his guilty plea. Hicks was handed a 7 year sentence, which he will serve in Australia. Australian officials are arguing to have his 5 year detainment in Guantanamo count as time served, however, it is not clear yet whether that will be accommodated. He has dropped his original accusations that he had been tortured by US officials while in custody.

UPDATE: In a major blow to the first test of the MCA, Hicks’ defense team negotiated his sentence to 9 months.  He had faced life imprisonment.  Washington Post has coverage here.
I’ve been covering this extensively; see side bar US cases.

NPR has reporting here.

Reuters has it here.

BBC has this.



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