Accused Australian Taliban fighter David Hicks on Wednesday denied war crimes charges made at a US military tribunal which in turned faced renewed criticism of bias. \nHicks, 29, put on a suit to meet his father for the first time in five years, before being escorted into the tribunal by military police. \nAfter an emotional reunion, Terry Hicks said his son had told "unpleasant stories" of being abused while in US military custody in Afghanistan after his capture in late 2001. \nHicks, a former ranch hand and kangaroo hunter who is just 1.57 meters tall was charged with conspiracy to attack civilians, attempted murder and aiding the enemy by fighting with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. \nDuring his appearance, Hicks spoke only to say he was happy with his defense team and later: "Sir, to all charges, not guilty." \nHis defense made motions for the charges to be dismissed and that the military commission was not competent to try the case. \nThe response of the US military authorities, which are running the controversial commissions, will be announced on Nov. 2, 2004. A full trial has been scheduled to start on Jan. 10, 2005. \nThe US military case is that after converting to Islam in 2000, Hicks went to Pakistan where he joined the radical group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. \nAccording to the charges, he was sent to al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, met Osama bin Laden, and joined Taliban fighters against US and coalition forces before his capture in December 2001. \nHicks had put on weight but was otherwise in good physical health, said his father. \nThe US military provided the suit for the tribunal hearing that his military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, said was the first he had ever worn. \nThe legs had to be shortened to make them fit. \nAll 585 detainees at Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba are normally held in isolation and in shackles. \nTerry Hicks and civilian lawyer Josh Draytell said that Hicks was abused while in US military custody in Afghanistan. \n"His treatment was not very pleasant in the early stages, the report from the English is correct," Terry Hicks told reporters, referring to a sworn statement by three former British war on terror detainees who said Hicks had been tortured. \n"He has been abused in not very pleasant ways, I think it will come out later," Terry Hicks said. \nAustralia asked the US authorities to investigate after claims by three former British inmates that Hicks and another Australian inmate, Mamdouh Habib, were tortured. \nHicks was allegedly tied hand-and-foot before being beaten and Habib allegedly dragged around by a chain on his foot. \nUS authorities have denied there has been any abuse at Guantanamo. \nHicks' lawyers are making a new attempt to launch civil action against the military commissions in US courts. \nThe defense has made 19 motions to the tribunal urging it to dismiss the charges for reasons ranging from the invalidity of the military commission and charges to the failure to give US and foreign suspects equal treatment. \nThe United States last held such a commission in 1948 and defense lawyers and rights groups have protested it is unfair because of the lack of appeal to an independent body and evidence restrictions. \nJosh Dratel, the lead defense counsel, said: "This is a process that is completely unfathomable. It isn't found in the military, civil or international courts." \n"We have never hidden from David that he is facing an unfair system resuscitated from the 1940s and his life and freedom is in jeopardy," Major Michael Mori, a military lawyer for the Australian, added. \nThe lawyers also hope Australia will be able to take advantage of any future deal Britain makes with the US government about the return of British detainees. \nFour Britons are still held at Guantanamo and the British government has reportedly refused to accept military commissions for its nationals. On Tuesday, Osama bin Laden's personal driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a 34-year-old Yemeni, was formally charged in the first hearing of the new military commissions. \nA Yemeni and a Sudanese are due to face similar pre-trial hearings on yesterday and today.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete