Khadr appears in court for first time since 2002

by | Sep 23, 2013 | News

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By Erinn Kenney

Convicted terrorist and Canadian citizen Omar Khadr is expected to make his first public appearance in an Edmonton courtroom Monday before Associate Chief Justice John Rooke.

This is the first public appearance he has made in 11 years.

According to his lawyer Dennis Edney, Khadr won’t be speaking in the courtroom but Edney told reporters he wanted people to see Khadr.

“We only have a one-sided view of him. No one has seen him, no one has spoken to him, and in the meantime, the government continues to call him all kinds of things,” Edney said in a report from Maclean’s.

“They need to show that he is being justifiably treated as a terrorist, and he is not a terrorist.”

In October 2010, Khadr plead guilty to five counts of war crimes, including the killing of an American medic in the armed forces.  Khadr, only 15 at the time,  threw a grenade during a firefight on July 27, 2002 in Afghanistan.  The U.S. military commission gave him an eight-year sentence after he had served eight years in Guantanamo Bay.

Since his transfer from Guantanamo in September 2012 to Canada, Khadr has been locked in two maximum-security facilities in Ontario and Alberta.

Arguments made by Embrey for Khadr at today’s habeas corpus hearing come down to whether his eight-year term should be viewed as a single youth sentence for all five offences.  If that is the case, he should be serving his time in a provincial facility rather than a federal penitentiary, said Embrey.

“What I’m arguing, essentially, is that Omar Khadr has been placed in the wrong institution,” Edney said.

“There is no documentation whatsoever or any analysis ever done as to where they should place Omar Khadr. They just threw him in maximum security”

Omar Ha-Redeye, a Toronto lawyer said the trial basically boils down to how we deal with Canadian citizens and their rights no matter the charge.

“In this case, you have a young teenage guy in Afghanistan doing what he was told.  These issues are so important for every Canadian to keep an eye on,” said Ha-Redeye.

“Just remember, it could always be us,”

Ha-Redeye said Canadians have a model of law the courts need to follow.

“If he confessed to a crime after threats and torture, there’s a lot of questions on whether his confession was constitutional or not,” Ha-Redeye said.

“In a Canadian court setting those threats and confession would not be admissible.”

Kent Roach, a professor of law at the University of Toronto, said given Khadr’s age, it seems inevitable he will be imprisoned with other adults.

“I could see an argument that he has perhaps been classified as too high a risk and should be in a lower security prison, but not one for youth,” said Roach.

If the judge agrees, Khadr could be transferred to a provincial institution, greatly improving his chances for parole.

Today’s hearing will move the case forward one more step.  Whether that’s a step backwards or forwards, Embrey says everyone just wants to move on.

“We will try to help him to readjust as a non-notorious individual known to the public, and let him get on with his life,”

“That is what he wants. He doesn’t want publicity. He just wants to disappear and get on with his life.”