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Aussie Muslim Convert Terrorist Pleads Guilty

From a despondent Associated Press:

David Hicks in Kosovo.

Australian terror suspect at Guantanamo pleads guilty to supporting terrorism

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — An Australian terror suspect pleaded guilty Monday to a war-crime charge of providing material support to terrorism.

David Hicks was the first detainee to face prosecution under revised military tribunals set up after the Supreme Court found the Pentagon’s previous system for trying Guantanamo prisoners unconstitutional. He is accused of fighting alongside al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

Hicks entered the plea before a military judge in a courtroom on this U.S. naval base. Hicks had deferred entering a plea during his arraignment earlier in the day, but the presiding officer, Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann, convened another session after lawyers told him Hicks would enter a plea.

Kohlmann ordered attorneys to attend another session Tuesday to sort out details of the plea. He did not discuss sentencing.

Hicks’ Pentagon-appointed attorney, Marine Corps Maj. Michael Mori, told the judge that his client would plead guilty to one of two counts of providing material support for terrorism and innocent to the other. Hicks, standing by Mori’s side, told the judge that was his wish.

In the days leading to the hearing, defense attorneys said Hicks did not expect a fair trial at Guantanamo and was considering a plea deal to end his five-year imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay. U.S. officials have said he would be able to serve any sentence in Australia.

Terry Hicks, who had an emotional reunion with his son before the arraignment Monday, had boarded a plane to leave Guantanamo when he was told another session would be held, according to U.S. military officials, and did not appear in the courtroom for the second session.

In the first session Monday, Hicks asked for more lawyers to help defend him but the presiding military officer instead ordered two civilian attorneys to leave the defense table, leaving the defendant with only one attorney.

The heavyset 31-year-old, wearing a khaki prison jumpsuit, had told the court he was satisfied with his defense team but wanted more lawyers and paralegals “to get equality with the prosecution.”

Kohlmann instead said two civilian lawyers, including a Defense Department attorney, were not authorized to represent Hicks. He ordered them to leave the defense table when Hicks said he would not settle for them being designated consultants.

One of the lawyers, Joshua Dratel, said he refused to sign an agreement to abide by tribunal rules because he was concerned the provisions did not allow him to meet with his client in private.

“I’m shocked because I just lost another lawyer,” Hicks said after Dratel’s departure, drawing a scolding from the judge for interrupting as he explained the reasoning for removing the lawyers.

Mori challenged Kohlmann’s partiality, arguing that his participation in the previous round of military trials that the Supreme Court last year found to be illegal created the appearance of bias.

Hicks, a Muslim convert, shaved his beard before his arraignment but kept the long hair that his attorney says he uses to block the constant light in his cell at the prison on the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, where the United States is holding about 385 prisoners…

Protesters supporting Australian Guantanamo detainee David Hicks, including former Guantanamo detainee Mamdouh Habib (R), march from Parliament House to the U.S. embassy in Canberra, February 6, 2007.

How long before we hear the claim he was “waterboarded”?

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, March 27th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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