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May 30th, 2019 by admin

PM quizzed by Terry Hicks

Terry Hicks rang a talkback radio station while Mr Howard was on air to ask him about his son's case.

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"How come the Americans can drop one charge and then lay a charge that's been retrospected to cover these charges against David, when the Australian government keeps saying they can't retrospect the law to bring David back to face charges?" Terry Hicks asked.

David Hicks was charged today with providing material support for terrorism and referred to stand trial by a special military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Pentagon said.

But a second charge of attempted murder was dismissed after Judge Susan Crawford concluded there was no "probable cause" to justify it.

Mr Howard denied that the charge of providing material support to terrorism was retrospective and said the other charge had been dropped because it could not be proven.

"The reason why apparently the attempted murder charge had been dropped is that the presiding authority is not satisfied that it could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt against your son," Mr Howard told Mr Hicks.

He said charges can be dropped " in those circumstances, just as frequently happens in Australia when directors of public prosecutions at a state and commonwealth level decide not to proceed with a case, not because there's no evidence, but because they believe there is insufficient evidence to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt".

"And that, may I say, demonstrates another point – that contrary to what many people have said, the beyond reasonable doubt and the presumption of innocence does exist in relation to this military commission process."

Mr Howard told Mr Hicks that the Americans had sped up his son's trial process following Mr Howard's personal appeals to US President George W Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney.

"I have raised on two occasions in conversations with President Bush over the past month my concern, my great concern, at the delay and I raised it with Vice-President Cheney," Mr Howard said.

"I can tell you that David Hicks is the first one to be dealt with in this fashion under the new military commission.

"It is quite obvious that the process has been accelerated and we will continue to press the Americans to keep their foot on the accelerator."

Mr Howard said he was not happy at the delay but the government decided several years ago that justice was better served by having Hicks appear before a military commission.

"If we'd have brought David Hicks back to Australia, he could not be charged unless we retrospectively created a criminal offence, which we were not willing to do," he said.