The lawyer for an Australian held at Guantanamo Bay, Michael Mori criticised the military tribunal process and said it did not allow a fair trial. Mori said the most “striking injustice” of the system was that commission members, who take the place of an independent judge, do not have the authority to decide issues that could end up in the dismissal of a charge. Mori said although he and other military lawyers assigned to defend prisoners at Guantanamo Bay had complained about the tribunal system, their concerns had not been addressed. Mori, who said he called the news conference to draw attention to problems in the tribunal system, said the existing military justice system was a better alternative. “There is no valid reason to create a new justice system only for non-U.S. citizens,” he said.

Mori, who in November was assigned to be the military attorney for David Hicks — an Australian held at the U.S. military prison in Cuba — said the system set up by the Pentagon for trials of non-U.S. citizens captured during what U.S. officials call the war on terror was unfair.

“The military commissions will not provide a full and fair trial,” Mori told a news conference. “The commission process has been created and controlled by those with a vested interest only in convictions.”

“Fairness is extremely important in all cases, particularly those that have commanded such international attention and will have international impact,” he said.

Mori has met three times with Hicks, who has been held for two years in Guantanamo Bay along with hundreds of other prisoners detained during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

None of the roughly 660 prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay has yet been charged with any crimes although Pentagon officials have suggested that military trials for some could begin soon.

Most held at the base were arrested during the U.S. war that toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan. Washington accused the Taliban of harboring al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who is blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

President Bush authorized the military commission trials two months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The tribunals have sparked criticism in the United States and abroad from rights groups and legal activists who say the procedures are designed to produce convictions.

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