23 January 2004

Hicks lawyer unimpressed with legal process

MAXINE McKEW: The immediate response, Major, from our Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, to your comments today really is it see them in the context of pre-trial jockeying, the normal things that one would hear from a defence advocate in the run-up to a trial.

MAJOR MICHAEL MORI: That's criticism that's very hard to address in this sense because I am a defence counsel and that's usually what the government says whenever the defence counsel points out that something's wrong.

But let me go back to -- first, to the rule that I cited to you, the rule where the appointing authority decides motions raised by the defence.

Can anybody sit back and objectively say that that is an independent system -- to have the person who initiated the charges and approved the prosecution be the one to rule just on specific defence motions?

Everyone out there, your viewers, can make their own determination.

They don't need to believe me.

Look at that situation and think that it's fair.

Second -- I'm not asking that David Hicks not go to trial.

I'm saying, if we're going to send him to trial, send him to a court martial that has the type of protections and established rules that -- for the past 50 years -- the current military court martial system has been around and it's got years of appellate review.

MAXINE McKEW: So are you surprised somewhat that the Australian Government has not made stronger representation about this to the American authorities?

MAJOR MICHAEL MORI: I really don't want to speculate on the reasons that the Australian Government did or did not do anything.

All I can say is the assurances between the Australian Government and the United States Government -- I have not seen those.

MAXINE McKEW: You should have a copy of those guarantees?

MAJOR MICHAEL MORI: I think I should have if they are supposed to provide guarantees for my client.

MAXINE McKEW: And you've requested them?


MAXINE McKEW: From whom?

MAJOR MICHAEL MORI: I requested them from the chain of command within the commission process and I was provided, basically, the news releases.

I'll check if a transcript's already posted before I mutter about it next time. I am in awe of Mori's courage in raising these matters in public. Four points:

To summarise, Grand Inquisitor Ruddock apparently thinks it's normal for the prosecution to rule on defence motions. Ruddock opposes retrospectivity in prosecutions, even though the various military commission orders are themselves retrospective and can be altered at any time. If the agreement guarantees fairness, why not just publish it? The government has simply been deceitful in characterising these rules as fair and then citing retrospectivity as the reason these offences cannot be tried in Australia.

Why does the phrase 'congaline of suckholes' spring to mind?

No comments: