28 Mar. 2007

David Hicks's conviction is a ludicrous political stitch-up. We will never accept it.

Hicks is the first person from Gitmo to be tried. There is no obvious procedure for trying people, nor for meting out the sentences handed down from any trial. Hicks is unique moerover in the fact that, more than any other prisoner, he is the subject of a significant campaign with majority support in his homeland, which is one of significant influence with the US administration, to have him returned.

As Tom Allen points out, it is all a "perfect solution" for the criminal Australian Howard administration. The Howard government needs to make the issue go away, the issue that it allowed Hicks to rot on Cuba, while convicted of no crime, a victim of the imperial hubris of Australia's international patron. By convicting Hicks, this means that his time in Guantanamo becomes legitimised as a punishment, so all ends well. By having Hicks confess, they avoid a legal battle in which the absurdities of the kangaroo trial would become clear.

It looks like it was planned from the get-go. There is no question I think that Howard orchestrated the latest trial through explicit representations to the US government. It seems most likely that what was decided was precisely that Hicks must be sent home, but first be found guilty, to legitimise the injustices so far heaped upon him. The big remaining question is whether Hicks will be sentenced to further time, to be served in Australia. Doubtless, the Australian government would rather he be locked up, but their carrying out of a dubious American sentence is hardly to their advantage. We will see. But a deal with Hicks of the form that Hicks confess and recognise the righteousness of his own mistreatment in return for repatriation seems to be what has happened. If Hicks is imprisoned in Australia, a vigorous cmapaign will surely erupt for his release. If he is not, the campaign for justice will I think still not completely evaporate, since this military court surely does not convince Australians.