870Terror Trials Condemned By Europe
- Jul 7, 2003US TERROR TRIALS CONDEMNED
There are at least 680 people being held at Guantanamo Bay Human
rights groups have expressed outrage at the planned use of military
tribunals to try terror suspects being held in Guantanamo Bay.
There are at least 680 suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban members at the
US naval base in Cuba.
President Bush decided on Thursday that six of them, including
Britons Moazzam Begg and Feroz Abbasi and Australian David Hicks
should face trial in a military tribunal rather than in a regular
But the decision has been criticised by human rights group who say
the tribunals are a "legal black hole".
Neil Durkin, a spokesman for the human rights organisation Amnesty
International said the detainees could not have a fair trial.
"It is being done outside the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
without the protection of the US constitution," he told BBC News
"They will have no entitlement to lawyers unless they, or their
governments can afford them. It's irregular, improper and
Stephen Jakobi, director of the British pressure group Fair Trials
Abroad, said his concerns over the use of tribunals related to the
most fundamental concepts of international law.
"After 18 months, six people out of over 600 are to be tried and the
rules have to be fixed, otherwise there might be no convictions," he
"The US Department of Defence will appoint the judges and
prosecutors, control the defence and make up the rules of the trial.
"It appears to have only one objective - to secure a conviction.
"If they were prepared to take these people to American soil and try
them under normal US prosecution, the evidence wouldn't stand up."
US AND EUROPE SET FOR CLASH OVER TERRORIST TRIALS
Jimmy Burns, Jean Eaglesham, Hugh Williamson, Financial Times, 7/4/03
The US faces another damaging diplomatic row with Europe over its
decision to try six suspected al-Qaeda terrorists in secretive
The European Union's executive commission warned on Friday that
applying the death penalty to any of the suspects detained at the US
base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba would risk undermining international
support for the US-led war on terrorism.
"The death sentence cannot be applied by military courts as this
would make the international coalition lose the integrity and
credibility it has so far enjoyed," said spokesman Diego de Ojeda.
The UK, America's closest ally in the war on terror, said it would
raise its objections with the US government at the "highest level"
after it emerged that two of the six are British citizens.
Foreign office minister Baroness Symons said London would pursue
a "very vigorous discussion" to satisfy its concerns that US
procedures may not guarantee a fair trial. "I think there are issues
about the principle of using military commissions," she told BBC
Human rights lawyers said the military process was discriminatory as
US detainees can be tried by ordinary civilian courts. Those accused
in the tribunals, which will take place behind closed doors, will
have no right to appeal outside the military
BRITONS COULD FACE DEATH SENTENCE
Sean O'Neill and David Rennie, Telegraph, 7/5/03
Two British al-Qa'eda suspects could face the death penalty at the
American detention camp in Guantanamo Bay after President George W
Bush ordered that they should stand trial before a secretive military
The Foreign Office promised yesterday to hold "very vigorous
discussions" with US authorities to ensure that Feroz Abbasi, 23, and
Moazzam Begg, 35, received fair trials.
Lady Symonds, the Foreign Office minister, expressed "serious
reservations" about the military commissions that will try Abbasi,
Begg and four other Camp Delta detainees.
The Pentagon has insisted the hearings will be "full and fair" but
refused to say what the Britons will be charged with or how the
trials will be conducted.
They will be defended by lawyers who are required to be US citizens,
must have security clearance and are part of a team headed by a US
air force colonel. The cases will be decided not by a jury but by a
Officials in Washington indicated that the first inmates to be tried
may be encouraged to plead guilty in return for a measure of
leniency. The US authorities believe they have strong evidence
against the two Britons and the four others to be tried
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