Saturday, April 12, 2008

Omar Khadr

G&M : "The U.S. soldier Omar Khadr is alleged to have killed may have died as a result of friendly fire, Mr. Khadr's lawyers argued at Guantanamo Bay yesterday.
Mr. Khadr's U.S. military defence lawyer, Lieutenant-Commander Bill Kuebler, revealed in court that several accounts of the 2002 gun battle show that U.S. soldiers were throwing grenades when they stormed the Afghan compound containing Mr. Khadr.
Mr. Khadr is accused of throwing a grenade at U.S. troops, mortally wounding a medic. The Canadian was 15 at the time."

That's Khadr in the picture at his time of capture.

"It was also revealed that an official with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs met Thursday with lawyers in the Khadr case in Guantanamo Bay, and showed them a copy of a report compiled by the Americans in the months after the 2002 Afghan battle."
The report was originally deemed classified, but was then declassified when it was handed over to the Canadians.
Military prosecutors at Guantanamo Bay, after reviewing the report, said it may still contain classified information, so Cdr. Kuebler would not comment on its details. However, he said it includes exculpatory information because it contains a description of events that is inconsistent with — and, at times, contradictory to — other reports.
The Canadian copy of the report is especially important because the Americans have since been unable to locate the original copy, meaning the Canadian copy of the report may be the only one still available."

This may prove a breakthrough for Khadr.

In February a leaked copy of witness testimony revealed that Khadr had not been the only survivor in the compound, as previously claimed, and that nobody had seen him throw the grenade.

In March, Kuebler insisted that "Lt. Col. W.", the Army Commander for Eastern Afghanistan at the time of the attack, had initially written in his report the day after the firefight that "the person who threw a grenade that killed Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Speer also died in the firefight", meaning that the grenade had not been thrown by Khadr. The report was rewritten several months later to say that the grenade thrower had been "engaged", rather than "killed", changing the wording that would have exonerated Khadr.

In 2005, Guantanamo's chief prosecutor told presiding officers that any evidence suggesting a suspect was innocent would be given a secret security classification, so that defence teams would not learn of its existence.

Although the G&M story doesn't specifically say so, I sincerely hope this visiting DFAIT official brought the Canadian copy of the original US report because Canada has behaved shamefully up till now, refusing to request the extradition of a child soldier despite third party testimony of his having been tortured.

Not that Canada hasn't been involved - Khadr was visited six times in Guantanamo by CSIS officials who then turned his testimony over to US officials. CSIS showed him pictures of people they wished identified, including Maher Arar. Khadr's US military lawyer had to request that CSIS officials be refused further access to Khadr for his own benefit.

Currently Cdr. Kuebler is waiting on whether the Canadian Supreme Court will ask the government to hand over all documents relating to Khadr's case.

"Cdr. Kuebler said Mr. Khadr's conviction is effectively a done deal if a trial commences under the current conditions. "I don't believe anyone can get an acquittal in Guantanamo Bay," he said."

"Canada had reason to know that Omar was being, if not tortured, at least seriously mistreated by the U.S. government and yet it did nothing and has done nothing," said Kuebler.
"I think it's shameful that Canada has displayed indifference for the plight of a Canadian citizen for no other reason than his father and family are unpopular."

On Tuesday, standing next to Condoleezza Rice in Washington, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier said : "Mr. Khadr faces serious charges and it will be premature to comment about the legal process right now and appeal process because they’re still ongoing. And what we will do is we’ll do -- and I received also assurances that Mr. Khadr has been treated humanely. So we’ll see the legal procedure, and after that we’ll react."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God bless Omar Khadr, a TRUE victim of this world. He has been treated unfairly and I hope his attorney can free him from this hell.

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