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Monday, March 05, 2007

US military commissions prosecutor slams Hicks military lawyer for alleged excesses
Bernard Hibbitts at 9:44 AM ET

[JURIST] Chief US military commissions prosecutor Col. Morris Davis (USAF) has criticized the conduct of the US military lawyer for Australian Guantanamo detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive], suggesting that Major Michael Mori (USMC) [NineMSN profile] has been playing politics with his case outside the bounds of proper legal representation. On Saturday, The Australian newspaper quoted Davis as saying "Certainly in the U.S. it would not be tolerated having a U.S. Marine in uniform actively inserting himself into the political process. It is very disappointing to see that happening in Australia, and if that was any of my prosecutors, they would be held accountable.” Mori has been outspoken in his defense of Hicks [JURIST news archive], condemning military commissions [JURIST news archive] as "kangaroo courts" and speaking out publicly [ABC WT report] on the case on seven visits to Australia. Davis said Mori could actually be charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice [text] for speaking contemptuously of top US officials contrary to UCMJ in breach of Article 88 [text], but insisted in subsequent comments Sunday that he was not threatening Mori with court-martial and had no power to bring such an action against him.

Military commission defense lawyers responded to the Australian media reports over the weekend by praising Mori and insisting that he was simply being vigorous in the defense of his client, conduct that has won him praise even in Australian governmental circles for evidencing what the John Howard government has thusfar insisted is the fundamental fairness of the US military commission trial process. Any military prosecution of Mori could further delay Hicks trial, but Davis alleged that delay was already part of the defense strategy [Australian report], designed to increase pressure on the Howard government to press for Hicks' release. The New York Times has more. The Melbourne Age has additional coverage.

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