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.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around