Canadian Guantánamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr on Oct. 25 pleaded guilty to all five charges against him, including conspiracy, murder and aiding the enemy. Under the terms of the agreement, Khadr will serve up to eight more years in prison in addition to the eight he has already spent in detention. At least one of those years will be spent at Guantánamo Bay. One other purported condition of the plea is that the US will support Khadr’s eventual application for transfer to Canada, a bargain that has been agreed to by the US and Canada through a series of sealed diplomatic notes. The guilty plea marks a reversal from Khadr’s original stance, voiced by one of his attorneys, that he would not accept a plea deal. Khadr’s sentence will be determined by a panel of seven senior military officers at a hearing that will begin this week.
Khadr’s guilty plea makes him the fifth person, and first child soldier, to be convicted of war crimes at Guantánamo Bay. Khadr’s trial was postponed earlier this month while lawyers for both sides attempted to reach a plea agreement. In late August, the military judge rejected Khadr’s claim that his confession was a product of torture. Earlier in August, the same judge ruled that Khadr’s confession was admissible at trial. Canada, which has agreed to accept a transfer after Khadr’s sentence is imposed, had previously declined to seek Khadr’s repatriation. Khadr was charged after he was captured following a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002 in which he allegedly threw a hand grenade that killed one US soldier and wounded another.
From Jurist, Oct. 25. Used with permission.