The Pentagon cleared the way yesterday for the resumption of the long-delayed military trial of Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks.
In unfreezing the case that the Pentagon had put on hold last year after an unfavorable court ruling, officials said the hearings in the Hicks trial will resume sometime between Oct. 3 and Oct. 20. Hicks, an Australian held for 3 1/2 years at the military prison, has pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding the enemy, attempted murder by an unprivileged belligerent and conspiracy to commit war crimes. Captured in Afghanistan in late 2001, Hicks is accused of fighting for the al Qaeda network.
The detainees are to be tried by special war crimes tribunals, known as commissions, made up of military officers, the first such U.S. trials since World War II. The Pentagon said it had dismissed two panel members in the Hicks case, Marine Corps Col. Jack Sparks and Air Force Col. Christopher Bogdan, but left Army Col. Peter Brownback as the presiding officer.
Of about 505 men held at Guantanamo Bay, four have been charged. Only the Hicks case is being resumed. Human rights groups in the United States and abroad have strongly criticized the length of the detentions at the camp, which opened in early 2002.
The announcement of the resumption of Hicks's trial came two months after a federal appeals court reversed a ruling in the case of another Guantanamo Bay prisoner, Yemeni Salim Ahmed Hamdan, and found the military commission trials to be lawful, Washington Post reports.