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British Official Rips U.S. Guantanamo Plan

Associated Press, USA
June 24, 2004 • Friday June 25, 2004

LONDON – U.S. plans to use a military tribunal to prosecute terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is unacceptable because it would not provide a fair trial by international standards, Britain’s attorney general said.

“There are certain principles on which there can be no compromise,” Lord Goldsmith said in copy of a speech he planned to make to the International Criminal Law Association on Friday.

“Fair trial is one of those, which is the reason we in the UK have been unable to accept that the U.S. military tribunals proposed for those detained at Guantanamo Bay offer sufficient guarantees of a fair trial in accordance with international standards.”

The prepared speech was released to the media Thursday night.

President Bush has unveiled plans for a system of military commissions to try 600 detainees at the Cuban base.

Two of the four British nationals still held at Camp Delta Feroz Abbasi of London, and Moazzam Begg of Birmingham were among Bush’s initial list of six people to be tried by the tribunal.

Five other Britons who spent up to two years in U.S. custody at the base were released to British officials in March, and were soon freed without charge.

In the past, Goldsmith and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw have said the United States should either try the British detainees at Guantanamo in accordance with international standards or return them to their homeland.

Straw has said “the military commissions as presently constituted would not provide the process which we would afford British nationals.”

The United States says the prisoners are “enemy combatants” not prisoners of war, and can be tried by military tribunals. But human rights groups have called the detentions is unlawful, and have criticized the United States for holding the prisoners without charges or access to legal representation.

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