Foreign Policy Blogs

Hicks to Serve 9 Months in First US War Crimes Tribunal Since World War II.

hicks.jpgThe first person to face a US war crimes tribunal since WWII was formally sentenced at Gauntanamo Bay. David Hicks, and Australian captured in Afghanistan after fleeing al-Qa'ida frontlines in Kandahar, was originally sentenced to seven years, but his plea agreement allows him to only serve nine months. Hicks had originally faced a life sentence for war crimes committed against the United States. His sentence is to be served in Australia.

Hicks had originally been charged with attempted murder, providing material support to al-Qa'ida and supporting terrorist acts. All charges had been dismissed against Hicks except the material support. In the Hamdan case striking down the original Commissions at Guantanamo, the Supreme Court stated in its opinion that material support was not a violation of the laws of war.

Hicks' plea agreement bars him from discussing his case with the media for one year. It also stipulates that any monetary compensation derived from his story be granted to the Australian government. He has also agreed to testify against al-Qa'ida and Taliban suspects. Hicks also retracted his initial allegations of torture at the hands of US officials, stating that he had "never been illegally treated by a person or persons while in the custody of the US government." The plea agreement also bans Hicks from suing the US government and denies him any rights to appeal.

The Australian government, while pleased with Hicks sentence and pending return, has repeatedly stated that the tribunal system in place at Guantanamo fails to meet international standards, a sentiment echoed by various human rights groups monitoring the case. An amicus brief was filed in the Supreme Court on March 29th by European and British Parliamentarians stating that the basic tenet of the Military Commissions Act (MCA) that established the existing tribunal at Guantanamo "fundamentally offend the rule of law and contravene treaties by which the United States is bound and upon which it is built."

Quotes and information on the amicus briefs taken from SCOTUSblog's reporting on Hamdan.

Reuters has coverage here.

Pertinent links and background have been extensively covered at this blog.

Photo credit: AP Photo. From Washington Posts’ coverage 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