HEARSAY AND other evidence not normally permitted in criminal courts would be allowed in the military tribunals being set up by the United States to try senior members of al-Qa'ida and the Taliban.
The military judges - senior uniformed officers - would allow any evidence that a "reasonable person" would find useful. Under such a standard, the recently recovered videotape showing Osama bin Laden gloating about the terror attacks of 11 September would almost certainly be permitted.
In addition, the panel of judges would only require a two-thirds majority for a guilty verdict, though a unanimous decision would be required for a death sentence.
Since President George Bush issued a military order on 13 November, which established the tribunals, there has been controversy over safeguards for those being tried. Some critics said the original proposals would result in widespread violation of civil rights.
Mr Bush told reporters yesterday at his ranch in Texas: "Whatever the procedures are for military tribunals, our system will be more fair than the system of bin Laden and the Taliban. The prisoners that we capture will be given a heck of a lot better chance in court than those citizens of ours who were in the World Trade Centre or the Pentagon were given by Mr bin Laden."
The American Civil Liberties Union said the establishment of the tribunals - which have not been held since just after the Second World War and whose establishment would be unprecedented without Congress having …