After nearly 10 years, military trials at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp have produced a total of six convictions. One of those was David Hicks, who agreed to a plea bargain under which he would be sent back to Australia to serve out his sentence. On his release, he wrote a book about his experiences. Under “proceeds of crime” laws, the earnings from books about a criminal career are liable to confiscation, and the Australian government accordingly froze the proceeds and took action to have them forfeited.
The news today is that the Director of Public Prosecutions has abandoned the actions and paid Hicks’ legal costs. Although no rationale was given, the general presumption is that the US conviction would not stand up in an Australian court, either because (as Hicks alleged) Hicks’ guilty plea was extracted by torture, or because the whole system failed to meet basic standards of due process.
Of what crime was Hicks convicted? And what tribunal certified his guilt? The short answer is that no properly constituted court has ever considered the guilt or innocence of David Hicks.
The final refusal of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to pursue David Hicks through the Australian courts ties up the squalid loose ends of George W. Bush’s moronic “Global War on Terror” and of John Howard’s obsequious collaboration in this disastrous folly.
And Australians should not forget that US Military Commissions — the kangaroo court process under which David Hicks was tortured to confess his guilt — are accorded the status of genuine judicial processes under Australian law.
The Military Commissions of no other countries are accorded this status.
David Hicks may get his money but the source of this injustice remains until this legislation is amended.
Why has the ALP government allowed this legislation to remain on the books?