Omar Khadr

Omar Khadr

Omar Ahmed Khadr (born September 19, 1986) is a Canadian citizen convicted for war crimes under the United States Military Commissions Act of 2009, including murder in violation of the law of war and providing material support for terrorism. Khadr was tried by a Guantanamo military commission tribunal, a venue reserved for non-American enemy combatants captured in the "Global War on Terror". In October 2010 he pleaded guilty to the five charges against him as part of a plea agreement with military commission prosecutors.

Khadr was captured on July 27, 2002 by American forces at the age of 15 following a four-hour firefight in the village of Ayub Kheyl, Afghanistan and detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. In 2010, having been detained for 8 years, Khadr signed a pre-trial agreement, pleading guilty to the charges, and the details of the charges and accepting an 8 year sentence, not including time served, with the possibility of a transfer to Canada after at least one year to serve the remainder of the sentence there, based on a US/Canada agreement.

He was one of the youngest prisoners held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and the first since World War II to be prosecuted in a military commission for war crimes committed while still a minor. His conviction was widely denounced by civil rights groups and various newspaper editorials. He has been frequently referred to as a child soldier and was formally identified as such by the head of the United Nations child soldier program in a letter to the Military Commission in October 2010. The last Western citizen remaining in Guantanamo, Khadr was unique in that Canada had chosen not to seek extradition or repatriation despite the urgings of Amnesty International, UNICEF, the Canadian Bar Association and other prominent organisations. A 2009 review determined that the Canadian Cabinet had failed Khadr, by refusing to acknowledge his juvenile status or his repeated claims of being abused. In April 2009, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms made it obligatory for the government to immediately demand Khadr's return. After a hearing before the Federal Court of Appeal produced the same result, the government announced they would argue their case before the Supreme Court of Canada. In January 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that Khadr's constitutional rights had clearly been violated, but it stopped short of ordering the government to seek his return to Canada.

Khadr was the only person charged under the 2006 Military Commissions Act who did not boycott the Guantanamo proceedings. Canadian intelligence authorities had initially determined in a post-interrogation report that Khadr had little knowledge of his father's alleged activities, since "he was out playing or simply not interested". This was contradicted by the stipulation of facts document signed by Khadr as part of his plea-agreement on October 26, 2010, which said that Khadr had "extensive firsthand knowledge" of his father's supportive role in Al Qaeda operations.

Khadr pled guilty to the murder of Christopher Speer. On October 29, 2010, despite the prosecution psychiatrist testifying that he showed no signs of remorse, Khadr apologized to the widow of Speer for the pain he had caused her. Khadr also said his eight years in prison had taught him "the beauty of life". Defence attorney Lieutenant Colonel Jon Jackson made a passionate argument to the war crimes tribunal sentencing panel saying that Khadr had no option but to fight in the gun battle: "Omar Khadr was a lawful target but he didn't have the right to fight back," Jackson said. On October 31, 2010, Khadr was sentenced to eight more years in custody in accordance with the plea agreement which was unsealed after the military sentencing jury recommended that he should serve 40 years.

On September 29, 2012 Khadr was repatriated and will serve the remainder of his sentence in Canada; he was the last Western detainee at Guantánamo Bay prison. Under Canadian law he is eligible for parole in 2013.

Read more about Omar Khadr:  Early Life, Capture, Time At Bagram, Time At Guantanamo, Canadian Response To Omar Khadr, Guilty Plea, Return To Canada

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