Almost half the members of Australia's parliament signed a letter to the Democrat-dominated US Congress appealing for help repatriating the lone Australian terror suspect held at Guantanamo Bay, officials said yesterday.
The letter faxed to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking for Congress to intervene to ensure that former kangaroo skinner David Hicks is not tried by a military commission at the US naval base in Cuba was signed by 96 senators and mem-bers of the Australian House of Representatives, opposition parties said. There are a total of 226 members in the federal parliament.
The only member of Prime Minister John Howard's center-right government to sign the letter was Barnaby Joyce, a maverick senator from the junior coalition partner, the Nationals party.
Joyce said that "heaps" of others within the government supported the letter's objectives, but for political reasons they refused to sign it.
"From the public's point of view, it's becoming a majority [opinion] ... that this process turns judicial principle on its head," Joyce said.
Lyn Allison, leader of the Australian Democrats minor opposition party, said she was disappointed that all but one member of the government refused to sign.
"It would have been a more powerful letter had they signed, of course, but it's nonetheless a very significant demonstration of the depth of feeling in the Australian Parliament on this issue,'' Allison later told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.
"As members of the Australian parliament, we believe that the denial of justice in David Hicks' case erodes the values and principles shared by Australia and the United States," she said.
The Democrats co-wrote the letter with the major opposition Labor Party. The letter was also supported by the Greens party and independents.
Congress confirmed Pelosi's receipt of the letter, a Labor official said yesterday.
The letter suggests Congress pass a resolution insisting that the 31-year-old alleged Taliban fighter be immediately repatriated to stand trial in Australia.
Failing repatriation, the law-makers request Hicks "be immediately put to trial before a properly constituted US criminal court."
Hicks has been held at the US military prison in Guantanamo since January 2002, a month after he was detained in Afghanistan. His lawyers say he is suffering from depression and ill health because of the conditions of his incarceration.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
BEYOND CULTURE: The US State Department was expected to announce that the Chinese government-funded institutes would have to register as foreign missions US President Donald Trump’s administration is increasing scrutiny of a long-established Chinese-government funded program that is dedicated to teaching Chinese language and culture in the US and other nations, the latest escalation of tensions with Beijing. The US Department of State was expected to announce as soon as yesterday that Confucius Institutes in the US — many of which are based on college campuses — would have to register as “foreign missions,” according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. The designation would amount to a conclusion that the institutes are “substantially owned or effectively controlled” by