Source : - ABC News Online

January 17, 2007

By Washington correspondent Kim Landers

The new rules for military courts in the US allow convicted terrorists to be imprisoned or put to death using hearsay evidence or coerced testimony.

The Pentagon's manual will apply to Guantanamo Bay detainees like Australian David Hicks.

It also states a suspect's defence lawyer cannot reveal classified evidence until the Government has had a chance to review it.

The detainee may never get to see classified information. Instead he will be given an unclassified version of the case against him.

Brigadier General Thomas Hemingway says the new rules prohibit statements obtained by torture.

"Number one, if it's torture it stays out, if it's a violation of the Detainee Treatment Act it stays out," he said.

"If it is before that the judge has to make an independent determination as to the reliability of the evidence."

A spokesman from the Office of Military Commissions says he expects prosecutions to begin "soon", meaning Mr Hicks could face new charges within weeks.


Mr Hicks's military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, says the hearing will be inferior to the standards of a US military court martial and he believes the new rules will not allow a fair hearing.

"We will not provide the same rules and protection that has to be provided to an American," he said.

"If they want to use a fair system they could use the US court martial system - if it's good enough to try US soldiers accused of murder and rape in Iraq why isn't it good enough for David Hicks?"

Major Mori says it is too soon to say if he will challenge the new rules.

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