David Hicks - Pre-trial Agreement and Sentence

Pre-trial Agreement and Sentence

Wikinews has related news: First Guantánamo Bay prisoner sentenced

On 26 March 2007, following negotiations with Hicks's defense lawyers, the convening authority Judge Susan Crawford directly approved the terms of a pre-trial agreement. The agreement stipulated that Hicks enter an Alford plea to a single charge of providing material support for terrorism in return for a guarantee of a much shorter sentence than had been previously sought by the prosecution. The agreement also stipulated that the 5 years already spent by Hicks at Guantanamo Bay could not be subtracted from any sentence handed down, that Hicks must not speak to the media for one year nor take legal action against the United States, and that Hicks withdraw allegations that the U.S. military abused him. Accordingly, in the first ever conviction by the Guantanamo military tribunal and the first conviction in a U.S. war crimes trial since World War II, on 31 March, the tribunal handed down a seven-year jail sentence for the charge, suspending all but 9 months.

The length of the sentence caused an "outcry" in the United States and against Defense Department lawyer Susan Crawford, who allegedly bypassed the prosecution in order to meet an agreement with the defense made before the trial. Chief prosecutor Colonel Davis was unaware of the plea deal and surprised at the nine-month sentence, telling The Washington Post "I wasn't considering anything that didn't have two digits," meaning a sentence of at least 10 years.

Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union described the case as "an unwitting symbol of our shameful abandonment of the rule of law".

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