9 January 2004

Deal for Camp X-ray Britons

Some of the British detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba could be sent back to Britain without a guarantee they will face trial, it emerged yesterday.

Seven of the nine detainees - those deemed medium-risk by the US authorities - could be repatriated if the US is satisfied they would be managed in such a way that the Americans could be certain they posed no threat, Pierre Prosper, the US ambassador at large on war crimes issues said.

US officials suggested that this could include constant monitoring or surveillance by law enforcement agencies.

The softening of the US line could remove what was perceived to be the main stum bling block to repatriation - the inability of the British government to promise that the Guantanamo Britons would be prosecuted on their return to this country. The independent Crown Prosecution Service cannot be ordered to take on a case, while even if it did, equally independent judges have the power to throw cases out on human rights grounds.

What a tragedy for the Bush administration that Britain does not share the Australian government's passion for achieving a preferred judicial outcome.

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