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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2007, 09:23 GMT
Hicks' US treatment 'abominable'
David Hicks (file photo)
David Hicks' family fear for his mental health
Australia's chief military prosecutor has described as "abominable" the treatment of an Australian man detained at Guantanamo Bay.

Brigadier Lyn McDade said David Hicks - who has been at the US detention centre in Cuba for five years - was entitled to a fair trial as soon as possible.

The comments are the toughest yet from an Australian official.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said Brigadier McDade's comments "reflects the government's position".

He said Canberra had been arguing for the situation to be resolved quickly, and had been assured by Washington that Mr Hicks would be one of the first to be tried under new laws coming into effect this month.

"We believe the delay is very unreasonable and inappropriate and that's why we've been arguing that it needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible," Mr Ruddock said.

Family plea

Lyn McDade, who became the first director of military prosecutions to the new Australian Military Court in July, was categorical when asked about Mr Hick's treatment.

"Abominable," she told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Quite frankly, I think it's wrong.

"I don't care what he's done or alleged to have done. I think he's entitled to a trial and a fair one and he is entitled to be charged and dealt with as quickly as is possible. As is anybody," she said.

Prime Minister John Howard also appeared to be taking a tougher line on the issue, telling a newspaper at the weekend: "The acceptability of him being kept in custody diminishes by the day".

David Hicks, 31, was detained in Afghanistan in 2002 and has since been held by the US at Camp X-Ray in Cuba on charges of conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy.

He has complained of being close to losing his sanity after so many years of detention without trial.

His family and lawyers have been pushing Canberra to follow the example of the British government, which secured the release of four of its citizens from the camp in 2005.

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