Source : - The Australian,20867,19435415-601,00.html

June 11, 2006

From correspondents in Washington

LAWYERS representing inmates held at the US "war on terror" prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba called on the government overnight for immediate hearings and trials following the suicide of three prisoners.

There are some 460 prisoners are being held at the military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, located on a US naval base on the southeastern tip of Cuba.

Only 10 have been formally charged as terror suspects since the camp opened in February 2002. No detainee has gone on trial.

The Centre for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based advocacy group, represents some 200 Guantanamo inmates and helps private attorneys representing other inmates.

Centre legal director William Goodman was saddened but not surprised to hear about the suicides.

"These deaths reflect the desperation for a basic human need -- a need for justice, a need to have someone hear what they have to say," he said.

All the inmates see "is blind, indefinite detention without any possibility of justice in the future," he said.

Gita Gutierrez, a Centre attorney who also handles Guantanamo cases, repeated calls that her group has been making since the site opened: that the men be released or be given a fair trial.

"The United States is morally responsible for detaining these men without a fair hearing for such an extensive period of time," she said.

Josh Colangelo-Bryan, who represents several Guantanamo inmates, witnessed one of his clients try to commit suicide during a visit on October 15.

"This is something that I have feared hearing about since that day in October," he said.

The inmates have been held "without a trial, without fair hearing, without charges, and in the majority of cases without even being accused of committing any hostile act against the US and their allies.

"They've been told that while they're held at Guantanamo they have absolutely no rights as human beings.

"In the words of one of my clients, 'I would simply rather die than live her without rights."'

Mr Colangelo-Bryan said he feared more suicides in the future.

Officials said last month that there had been 41 suicide attempts by 25 prisoners.

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