Monday, 18 April 2005

ST05: Status of Terror Suspects Clarified

The Prime Minister's office issued a statement today, clarifying the legal position of the two suspects accused of commiting terrorist acts in Sydney recently.

"The defendant Omar Masri has been determined by a properly constituted court to be an Enemy Combatant conducting operations of a military nature in Wartime, a status which he does not deny. A duly constituted military tribunal reviewing the facts determined that his conduct was undeniably so grave a violation of the norms and customs of war that he had forfeited all rights to be considered a Prisoner of War.

This tribunal's deliberations were monitored by a panel of International Observers, including the Swiss Military Attache, none of whom characterised it other than fair and in accordance with international law.

The tribunal recommended that the Illegal Combatant Omar Masri be placed in close confinement on a military installation pending ceasation of hostilities, or such other disposition as may be deemed appropriate. Until that time he has neither the ordinary rights of a convicted criminal, nor those of an Enemy Prisoner of War.

The defendant Hazee ibn Waqin is currently before the Supreme Court of NSW, where his status as a civilian or Enemy Combatant will be determined. He has been formally charged with Arson and other offences under the Crimes Act. Should he be judged an Enemy Combatant conducting military operations, these charges will be dropped, and he will become an Enemy Prisoner of War.

Until such an adjudication, the defendant Waqin is entitled to the presumption of innocence, and contrary to ill-informed reports has been granted both consular access and legal representation.

Further arrests are expected in due course."

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