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March 30th, 2019 by admin

Hicks' trial possibly delayed

Last week Mr Hicks was formally charged by the US with providing material support for terrorism and is due to face trial before a US military commission within four months.

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But Mr Hicks' outspoken military lawyer Major Michael Mori has said he could be pulled from the case for being too political and that could cause a further delay.

The chief US prosecutor, Colonel Morris Davis, has accused Major Mori of breaching Article 88 of the US military code by actively inserting himself into the political process.

That section relates to using contemptuous language towards the US president, vice-president, and secretary of defence.

Labor has called on the government to defend Major Mori or face the possibility of Hicks' trial being delayed again.

"If the Howard government does not intervene at this point, we face the prospect that Major Mori will not be able to continue to represent David Hicks in future," opposition legal affairs spokesman Kelvin Thomson told reporters.

"This will simply damage the defence case and the search for a replacement lawyer will add more delays to a situation where David Hicks has already been at Guantanamo Bay for over five years without a trial."

Prime Minister John Howard said any delay would be unacceptable.

"We would not regard a further significant delay as being acceptable," Mr Howard told the Nine Network.

However, Mr Howard refused to comment on the threat to Major Mori.

In the past, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has strongly backed the vigorous defence of Hicks offered by Major Mori as proof the military commission system the US is using to prosecute suspected terrorists is appropriate.

"Extensive safeguards are in place for a fair trial, and of course, Major Mori is part of that process," Mr Ruddock said yesterday.

"I presume that other members of that process will bring the same diligent approach to their roles as Major Mori."

The Adelaide-born Mr Hicks has been held in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay for five years without trial since his capture in Afghanistan in late 2001.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance said any charges against Major

Mori would delay a trial.

"News that … Major Mori could face charges … for inserting himself into the political process would do nothing but create further delays for Hicks," alliance president Simon Morrison said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says he's optimistic the current timetable set down for Mr Hicks can still be met.

Speaking in Jakarta, Mr Downer says lots of players are at fault for the delays, including the Pentagon, and Australia doesn't want any more procrastinations.