ELEANOR HALL: The military defence lawyer for Australian Guantanamo Bay
detainee David Hicks is visiting Australia and today he thanked Melbourne
University's Law School for its assistance in the Hicks case over the last
Major Mori has been a guest of the Law School this week and last night he
spoke to law students, academics and invited guests in a packed lecture
Alison Caldwell was there for The World Today.
ALISON CALDWELL: Major Michael Mori was in Melbourne last night to address
law students at Melbourne University's Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law.
MICHAEL MORI: Well, when I was asked, I thought it was only going to be a
group of about 20 people. So… (laughs)
ALISON CALDWELL: You were surprised at the turn out?
MICHAEL MORI: Yeah, I was very surprised at the turn out.
ALISON CALDWELL: So what does that say to you?
MICHAEL MORI: Well, obviously it's a law school where there's going to be a
lot of interest in this area of the law - international humanitarian law and
international law. Obviously commissions haven't happened in over 60 years
and I think people are curious to see what's going on and learn the truth
about the process and its problems.
ALISON CALDWELL: A lawyer with the US marines, Major Michael Mori
volunteered to work as a defence lawyer for the proposed military
commissions in Guantanamo Bay, in early 2003. He was assigned to defend the
Australian detainee David Hicks.
With a background in US court marshalls, the Bush administration's new
military commission process was something Major Mori had never experienced
He decided to seek advice from international law experts both in the US and
here in Australia, and law lecturers and graduates at Melbourne University's
Law School have been helping him ever since.
Law School graduate Sarah Finnin has been providing research assistance for
Major Mori in Washington since 2004.
SARAH FINNIN: All five military lawyers and their paralegals, who were used
to US court marshall proceedings, faced new challenges trying to understand
the complex area of the international law of war and the unique procedural
aspects of the newly established military commissions.
ALISON CALDWELL: Speaking to The World Today after his lecture, Major Mori
said his faith in American military law hasn't wavered.
MICHAEL MORI: No, because remember, the Commission system wasn't set up by
one of the Judge Advocate-Generals for one of their services. You know, it
wasn't given to the Judge Advocate-General of the Army and said, you create
this system, you do this independently.
It wasn't given to the Judge Advocate-General of the Navy and said, you set
this up. This is not military justice. No one should be fooled to believe
that it is. This is not the Court Marshall process.
The Court Marshall system is something to be very proud in.
ALISON CALDWELL: You've been coming to Australia for a couple of years now.
Have you noticed a change in the Australian attitude towards David Hicks?
MICHAEL MORI: Well, I think it's taken some time for the initial media hype
about David to… for people to start saying, well, wait a minute, let me see,
what did he really do?
Stop listening just to the news media, you know, there was that blitz at the
very beginning when he was detained and then people started questioning:
okay, what did he exactly do? And they're finding out that he never really
And time has gone by and I think four years is seen as sufficient
consequences for what he's alleged to have done.
And I think they're also saying the unfair treatment when you look at him
and how others are being treated, others are just being released, you've got
the former Taliban ambassador attending university in the United States and
yet David Hicks remains locked up, charged with aiding the Taliban.
It's shocking that a Taliban member, Taliban leader would have more rights
than an Australian citizen.
ELEANOR HALL: US military lawyer, Major Michael Mori speaking to Alison Caldwell in Melbourne.
Click Here for more info on David Hicks and inmates at Guantanamo Bay