Ministers condemn US treatment of suspects

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A furious row between the British and American governments over British al-Q'aida suspects in Guantanamo Bay has erupted with ministers expressing "strong reservations" about treatment.

MPs from all parties lined up yesterday to condemn the American decision to try British suspects before a military court. They said it amounted to a "charade of justice" and a "kangaroo court".

Chris Mullin, the Foreign Office minister, said that Tony Blair had repeatedly raised the issue with the US government, while Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, expressed his concerns about their treatment to Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State.

"We are expressing our strong views about the way we hope it will be conducted," Mr Mullin said. "We hope the US will listen. It is strongly in the interests of the United States that these trials are carried out in a fair and transparent fashion because it will effect the respect with which the US is held throughout the world."

The minister said that a record of yesterday's debate, where there was almost unanimous condemnation of the treatment of al-Q'aida suspects, would be given to the US ambassador to Britain to make clear the strength of Parliament's criticism.

"The Prime Minister has on a number of occasions made clear that he regards conditions in Guantanamo Bay as unsatisfactory," Mr Mullin said. He added Britain wanted to see a fair trial for its citizens and has expressed extreme disquiet over the possibility that they could face the death penalty.