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News :: Human Rights
Saddam Execution Photos Displayed at Gitmo, Says Aussie Prisoner
by Sydney Morning Herald, Varlet
07 Feb 2007
In a clumsy attempt to intimidate and terrorize prisoners of war at the US torture center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the authorities have set up displays of the execution of Saddam Hussein in the common areas of the torture camp. The story was found on the website of the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald - Varlet
Hangman pictures on jail wall, says Hicks
Tom Allard National Security Editor
February 2, 2007
* Hicks 'shown Saddam hanging shots'
* Open or shut: Hicks case may be empty
* MPs plea to Pelosi: help bring Hicks home
* MPs' plea to secure fair trial for Hicks
* Report 'boosts Hicks's case'
A PHOTOMONTAGE of Saddam Hussein - including a picture of him dangling from the hangman's noose - is displayed on a wall at Guantanamo Bay with a warning that prisoners could face the same fate, David Hicks says.
It has also been alleged that Mr Hicks and other prisoners were shown articles and photographs of other people executed in Iraq, including a man who was decapitated by his hanging.
The outraged Hicks legal team said the display breached the Geneva Conventions requiring the humane treatment of prisoners, and constituted coercion.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, said a senior official from his department who visited the prison this week had not seen the photos.
A statement issued by Mr Hicks's lawyers quotes Mr Hicks as saying the photographic display of Saddam Hussein was two metres by one metre and visible from the exercise cells where prisoners are allowed for two hours each day.
Mr Hicks's chief defence lawyer, Joshua Dratel, said: "Displaying photos of condemned men to those who may be facing capital charges can only [be] interpreted as an attempt to intimidate and compel submission under a threat of death."
He said the display amounted to the mental torture of an already abused prisoner population. In a statement, Mr Hicks's legal team added: "Unfortunately it demonstrates that the lessons of Abu Ghraib and the humane treatment of detainees have not been learned."
Kelvin Thomson, the Opposition's shadow attorney-general, said the display highlighted that Mr Hicks would not get a fair trial.
"Such photos would not be displayed in the remand section of an Australian jail, nor would they be shown to people facing charges in American jails," he said.
"The reason is simple - the authorities would be concerned that confessions or other evidence obtained in such circumstances would be thrown out as having been obtained through coercion."
Mr Hicks is said to be in a deteriorating mental and physical condition, although the Australian Government insists he is well.
The US has refused Australian requests for an independent medical assessment, but a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday the US had relented and the examination could take place after the "military commission process had begun".
When that will actually begin remains uncertain. However, American prosecutors have said they expect to lay charges by the end of this week.
As any first-year law student on the planet knows, the posting of these images in common areas of Gitmo would be seen by any court of law worthy of the name as having hopelessly tainted the testimony of any inmate against any other inmate or against anyone outside the prison as well. By posting these images, the Gitmo commander destroyed any potential usefulness of the testimony of these prisoners. The only thing the US can do now is let them all go free. To admit the testimony of these prisoners in a US court of law would do major damage to the legal system of the US. Same thing goes for the US' allies.
It's the legal equivalent of prosecutorial suicide.
This work is in the public domain