The fate of Croydon student and al-Qaeda suspect Feroz Abassi took a bleak turn this week with the revelation that he will be among the first of the 680 prisoners detained at Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay to face a military trial on terrorism charges.

Concern is mounting that the 23-year-old will be left with the stark choice of ‘plead guilty, or die’ and fresh calls have been made for him to be repatriated to face a trial on home ground.

Feroz Abassi has been held for more than 18 months, after he was caught fighting in Afghanistan, without charge or access to legal representation on the US military base in Cuba.

Last week it was revealed US President George Bush will put him – along with another Briton, an Australian and three others – before a secret military tribunal which has the power to order executions.

Abassi’s mother, Zumrati Juma, fears the US may execute her son to make an example of him and politicians this week vented their fury at US officials’ refusal to repatriate the accused.

Geraint Davies, Labour MP for Croydon central, told the House of Commons on Monday: “Feroz Abassi faces a stark choice: to plead guilty and serve a 20-year sentence, or to plead not guilty and face an unfair trial characterised by his not being able to pick his own defence lawyer.

“His mental health has been badly affected by being incarcerated for 18 months in a 2sq m cage, with 15 minutes’ exercise twice a week.” He added: “The case will be decided behind closed doors by a judge and jury from the military, who are predisposed towards finding a guilty verdict and imposing the death penalty.” Zumrati Juma was described by her solicitor Louise Christian this week as “distressed, despondent and let down by the British government”.

Mr Davies added: “Her worst nightmare is that Feroz will be taken to be executed and, as one of the first six out of 680 prisoners to face trial, the Americans will make an example of him.

“There are deep concerns about his mental health. The last time someone visited him he did not speak for an hour.” Schoolfriend Alex Osbourne, who knew Abassi well when the pair were pupils at Edenham High School, Shirley, said: “He needs to be tried for what he has been accused of but it has got to be a fair trial. It is quite clear that’s not what he’s going to get.

“The Americans are hypocritical. If it was one theirs over here we’d be forced to hand them over. If the American that was caught fighting in Afghanistan was given a proper trial in the US, why shouldn’t Feroz get one too?

“It’s so shocking. Everyone knew him as a nice, quiet person. I always thought he’d go on to do some good for the world.”