Omar Khadr sentenced by military jury

A panel of seven senior US military officers on Oct. 31 sentenced Canadian Guantánamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr to 40 years in prison, but Khadr will serve no more than eight years under the terms of a guilty plea agreement. Khadr pleaded guilty last week to all five charges against him, including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism and espionage, agreeing to serve an eight-year sentence. He will serve only one year of his sentence at Guantánamo and will then be able to apply to be transferred to Canada and will be eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence. According to a diplomatic note agreement the US and Canada, Khadr’s application will be “favorably” considered.

Khadr is the fifth person to be convicted by a Guantánamo military court, but is the first to be charged with murder and convicted for a crime committed as a juvenile. Khadr was charged at the age of 15, after he was captured following a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002 in which he threw a hand grenade that killed one US soldier and wounded another. In addition to pleading guilty, Khadr signed a stipulation of fact confirming that he was a member of al-Qaeda, that he threw the grenade and that he felt “happy” when he learned an American soldier had been killed.

From Jurist, Nov. 1. Used with permission.

  1. Ontario appeals court refuses to extradite Khadr brother
    The Court of Appeal for Ontario on May 6 upheld a decision to halt extradition proceedings for Abdullah Khadr, an accused al-Qaeda supporter and conspirator. Abdullah Khadr is the older brother of Omar Khadr , the youngest detainee at Guantánamo Bay. According to the appeals court, a Toronto judge was right to release Abdullah Khadr last summer because extraditing him to the US would be tantamount to ignoring that he was allegedly subjected to torture in Pakistan at the behest of the US. The court said:

    The rule of law must prevail even in the face of the dreadful threat of terrorism. We must adhere to our democratic and legal values, even if that adherence serves in the short term to benefit those who oppose and seek to destroy those values. For if we do not, in the longer term, the enemies of democracy and the rule of law will have succeeded. They will have demonstrated that our faith in our legal order is unable to withstand their threats.

    The Toronto judge noted that Canada is still free to prosecute Abdullah Khadr itself. Additionally, Canada’s government has 60 days to appeal the decision.

    Abdullah Khadr was detained by Canadian law enforcement in summer 2005 on the basis of a US warrant. In February 2006, the US government formally requested his extradition from Canada. He was indicted in 2006 by a US federal grand jury on four counts connected to his alleged procurement of destructive devices to be used against US forces in Afghanistan in 2003 and faces a possible life sentence and a $1,000,000 fine. Former US Attorney Michael Sullivan said he plans to pursue the extradition “aggressively.” Abdullah Khadr admitted to attending an al-Qaeda training camp at age 13, but denies the allegations of membership in the group or of supplying weapons to it. Another of Abdullah Khadr’s brothers, Abdul Rahman Khadr, was released from Guantánamo in 2003.

    From Jurist, May 9. Used with permission.