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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 February 2007, 06:49 GMT
US to charge Guantanamo detainees
David Hicks. File photo
David Hicks is the only Australian held at Guantanamo
The US military says it has prepared fresh charges against three terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay.

The three men - an Australian, a Canadian and a Yemeni - face charges including murder, conspiracy and material support for terrorism.

The move is the first step towards trials by new military commissions set up by the Bush administration.

Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that the previous system of tribunals was unlawful.

Under the new system, the charges are not considered formally filed until they are approved by other Pentagon officials.

'Serious charges'

"The chief prosecutor for the Office of Military Commissions has sworn changes against Guantanamo detainees David Hicks of Australia, Salim Hamdan of Yemen, and Omar Khadr of Canada," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

Salim Hamdan. File photo
Salim Hamdan is said to be Osama bin Laden's driver

Mr Hicks was detained in Afghanistan in 2001 on suspicion of fighting for al-Qaeda and later transferred to the US detention camp in Cuba.

The charges prepared against him are providing material support for terrorism and attempted murder in violation of the law of war.

Mr Hicks' Pentagon-appointed lawyer said the charge of material support was not part of the law of war and did not appear in any US or Australian military manual as a law of war offence.

The lawyer also said that there was no evidence that Mr Hicks had shot at anyone in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon announcement was welcomed by Australian Prime Minister John Howard who had demanded that charges be filed against Mr Hicks by mid-February.

Omar Khadr. File photo
Omar Khadr was seized in Afghanistan in 2004
"They are very serious charges and that is why they should be dealt with as soon as possible," Mr Howard said.

Salim Hamdan has been accused by the prosecution of acting as Osama bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan and of transporting weapons for al-Qaeda.

The charges prepared against him are conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism.

Omar Khadr - who was captured in Afghanistan in 2004 - faces charges of murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, spying, conspiracy and also providing material support for terrorism.


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