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'Guantanamo Bay detainee was beaten by US captors for 20 hours'
Updated: 2004-08-31 16:25

An Australian war crimes suspect was beaten for 20 hours by US troops after his capture in Afghanistan, his father said Tuesday, after visiting his son.

Terry Hicks said his 29-year-old son, David, told of the abuse when the pair were reunited for the first time in five years at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, last week.

David Hicks later pleaded innocent before a US military commission to charges that he conspired to commit war crimes, aided the enemy and attempted murder by firing at US or coalition forces as a Taliban fighter. He will be tried in January.

Terry Hicks told reporters at Guantanamo that his son had been physically abused in Afghanistan before his American captors transferred him in December 2001 to Cuba where he was mentally abused.

Hicks' father elaborated on the alleged abuse when he arrived home in the southern city of Adelaide on Tuesday.

``He had two lots of 10-hour beatings in Afghanistan,'' Terry Hicks told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. ``They (assailants) were Americans; they were speaking with American accents; and I asked him if he was sure of that. He said, 'most definitely.'''

A US Defense Department investigation last week rejected claims that Hicks was abused in US custody either in Afghanistan or Cuba.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer welcomed the vindication of the US military jailers, saying it was consistent with Australian consular advice that Hicks had been treated humanely.

But Terry Hicks said his son had not lied.

``The first thing that flashes back through my mind is that they say that they've had this inquiry into these abuses and they've found nothing and yet here was David just blurting everything out to us,'' Hicks said. ``He just wanted to get it off his chest and he was quite stressed when he was telling us about this, so he wasn't lying.''

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