US military judge rejects Omar Khadr torture claims

US military judge Army Col. Patrick Parrish rejected claims by Canadian Guantánamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr that his confession was a product of torture, in a ruling released Aug. 20. Khadr’s lawyers had argued that his statements were illegally obtained through threats of rape and death by interrogators. Parrish rejected the suppression motion, finding:

There is no credible evidence the accused was ever tortured as that term is defined under M.C.R.E. [Military Commission Rule of Evidence] 304(b)(3), even using a liberal interpretation considering the accused’s age. While Interrogator #1 told the accused a story about the rape of an Afghan youth in an American prison, there is no evidence that story caused the accused to make any incriminating statements then or in the future. In fact, the credible evidence is that the accused started to make incriminating statements only after he learned the Americans found the videotape at the compound where the firefight took place which shows the accused and others making improvised explosives and placing them along the roadside at night.

Parrish also cited Khadr’s refusal to testify and a lack of evidence corroborating his affidavit as factors in the determination. The ruling will allow for Khadr’s inculpatory statements to be admissible as evidence, as well as a video that Khadr’s lawyers claimed was found as a result of intelligence improperly obtained from Khadr. The trial is the first contested military commission trial under the Obama administration. If Khadr is found guilty, he could face a life sentence.

From Jurist, Aug. 23. Used with permission.