Constitutional Law

Captured at 15 and Held By US at Gitmo, Khadr Says He Nixed 5-Year Plea Deal

In a new wrinkle in the already-controversial terrorism case against a Canadian man imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay since he was a juvenile, a United States military tribunal in Cuba has refused Omar Khadr’s request to fire both his military and civilian counsel.

Khadr, now 23, also said he intended to boycott his own trial next month, which apparently may have tipped the balance against the tribunal’s granting his request to defend himself, according to the Globe and Mail.

Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse and the Miami Herald report that Khadr says he turned down a plea deal that would have required him to serve only five years of a 30-year term if he admitted committing war crimes that ordinarily call for a life sentence.

“I will not take any of the offers because it’ll give the U.S. government an excuse for torturing me and abusing me when I was a child,” Khadr told the tribunal, which is headed by U.S. Army Colonel Patrick Parrish.

Khadr, who was captured in Afghanistan when he was 15 and is accused of throwing a grenade during a firefight that killed an American soldier, said the result will be the same regardless of what happens at trial.

“If I was in a formal court, I wouldn’t be doing this,” he told the tribunal. But “I’m going to get 30 years no matter what,” reports the Globe and Mail.

If convicted, he could get life, the Herald notes.

A Canadian lawyer, Dennis Edney, represents Khadr’s family members but has no standing in the military tribunal defense. He was, however, at Khadr’s side at the tribunal today and Khadr repeatedly consulted him.

Although the Supreme Court of Canada has held that the government of Khadr’s own country is not required to seek his repatriation there, the government was ordered earlier this month in an ongoing case in Canada’s federal court in Ottawa to take adequate steps to remedy its breach of his rights as a prisoner, reports Agence France-Presse.

And if that does not happen, Canadian Federal Court Judge Judge Russel Zinn indicated that he may require repatriation.

Khadr is entitled to “procedural fairness and natural justice,” Zinn said in his opinion. At issue in the case is statements shared by Canadian officials with U.S. officials, which have been found by the Canadian courts to violate Khadr’s rights. At least some of the material may be used in evidence against Khadr in his trial before the military tribunal.

Earlier coverage: “Military Judge Threatens to Suspend Khadr Terror Trial Over Evidence Issue” “Canada Must Give Interrogation Info to Omar Khadr” “Guantanamo Judge Ousted in Case of Canadian Youth” “Tapes Show Sobbing Youth Being Questioned at Guantanamo”

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