Though a plea deal will cap the amount of time he serves at nine additional years, Toronto-born Gitmo child soldier Omar Khadr was sentenced to 40 years for “war crimes” related to allegations he may have been the one who threw a hand grenade during the Afghan War in 2002, killing a US soldier. The charges included “terrorism” and “spying.”
Khadr was forced into service resisting the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 by his father, and despite the fact that he was only 15 when the alleged crime was committed US lawyers insist he is a “terrorist and murder” and that the protections normally afforded to child soldiers doesn’t count because the group he was with wasn’t technically an army.
A number of questions were raised during the trial, including the years of abuse Khadr suffered in US detention and the coerced confession which was the center of the case against him. Less often mentioned was that the “crime” in question, throwing a hand grenade during combat, has never been considered a war crime. The military jury in Khadr’s “trial” deliberated for less than nine hours before delivering the ruling.
Under the plea deal, Khadr will spend another year in US military custody at Guantanamo Bay and then be turned over to the Canadian government to serve another seven years in Canadian prisons. Canadian lawyers believe they can win his release in short order once he is out of US military custody, considering his status as a child soldier. The Harper government has been trying to prevent Khadr’s return, not wanting to have to take any official stand on the treatment of a Canadian born Canadian citizen by the US military tribunal system.
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