WASHINGTON – The Pentagon cleared the way on Tuesday for resuming the Guantanamo Bay terrorism trial of David M. Hicks (search), an Australian charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy.
No date was set for resuming the case before a military tribunal, or commission.
Hicks, accused of fighting with Afghanistan's ousted Taliban (search) regime against U.S. forces, has pleaded innocent.
John D. Altenburg Jr. (search), the appointing authority for military commissions, directed in an order published Tuesday that the first session of a resumed Hicks trial be held by Oct. 20, but not earlier than Oct. 3.
Military court proceedings against Hicks and three other Guantanamo Bay detainees were begun last August but were suspended last November after a court ruled that Salim Ahmed Hamdan (search), a Yemeni, could not be tried by a military commission unless a "competent tribunal" determined first that he was not a prisoner of war.
In July a three-judge federal panel ruled that the commission itself is such a competent tribunal and that Hamdan could assert his claim to prisoner of war status at the time of his trial before a military commission.
Hamdan's lawyers appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, which has not yet decided whether to hear the case.
Altenburg also named six new members, and two alternate members, to the military commission that will hear the Hicks case. For what the Pentagon called security reasons, all eight names were blacked out on copies of Altenburg's order made public Tuesday. The six members are military officers at the rank of colonel. The original four members of the commission in the Hicks case, plus an alternate, were removed.
The presiding officer remains Col. Peter E. Brownback.
Besides Hicks and Hamdan, the other two suspects whose military trials were started and then suspended are Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi, a Sudanese citizen accused of conspiracy to commit terrorism, and Ali Hamza Ahmed Sulayman al-Bahlul, a Yemeni accused of conspiring to commit war crimes.
Officials have said the Hicks and Hamdan cases were likely to be the first to be resumed.
All of the 500 or so prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay are accused of links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or the al-Qaida terror network, which is blamed for coordinating the Sept. 11 terror attacks.