Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trial Begins for Canadian Guantanamo Detainee, Captured as Teen

"Guantanamo's Youngest Prisoner, Captured At 15, His Trial Begins Today "
MIKE MELIA
08/10/10
 
"GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — Eight years after his capture as a teenager on an Afghan battlefield, a long-delayed trial began Tuesday for Guantanamo's youngest detainee.

A U.S. military judge ruled Monday that purported confessions by Canadian detainee Omar Khadr can be used against him, dismissing arguments they were tainted by mistreatment and dashing the defense's last hope for derailing the trial in the slaying of an American soldier.

His age – Khadr was only 15 when he was captured in 2002 – has exposed President Barack Obama's administration to criticism from child advocates. The prosecution will receive added scrutiny as this is the first trial under the embattled war-crimes tribunals inherited from the administration of former President George W. Bush...

While military prosecutors describe Khadr as a clear-eyed al-Qaida fighter, defense lawyers say he was himself a victim, forced into war by a family with close ties to Osama bin Laden. His father, Ahmed Said Khadr, was an Egyptian-born Canadian citizen and alleged terrorist financier.

"He's not a real Taliban warrior. He's a kid who was put in an unfortunate situation," said Dennis Edney, a Canadian lawyer for Khadr...

His attorneys contend the case relies on confessions extracted following abuse in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, but the judge in the case, Army Col. Pat Parrish, said Monday that he would allow Khadr's statements as evidence.

Defense attorneys say they will counter the statements with testimony from interrogators including former Army Sgt. Joshua Claus, who said at a pretrial hearing that he scared Khadr into confessing by making up a story about an uncooperative detainee who was sent to an American prison to be raped.

Some officials in Washington were reportedly reluctant to see the case advance to trial in the face of criticism from opponents such as UNICEF head Anthony Lake, a former Obama adviser, who warned it could set a dangerous international precedent and lead to more youths being victimized by war.

Negotiations on a plea agreement broke down, however, when Khadr rejected an offer of 30 years in prison – five more years in Guantanamo, plus 25 in Canada – in exchange for pleading guilty to all charges, according to Edney, the Canadian lawyer.

Where other Western countries have successfully lobbied for the return of their nationals from Guantanamo, Canada has refused to intervene despite a recent federal court ruling that ordered it to remedy its failure to protect Khadr's rights."

Read the complete article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/10/guantanamos-youngest-pris_n_676682.html

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