Guantanamo Australian's deal seen helping Canadian

The plea deal that will send Guantanamo ex-prisoner David Hicks home to Australia has opened the way for a young Canadian awaiting trial at the U.S. naval base in Cuba to seek the same, defense lawyers said.

Guantanamo Australian's deal seen helping Canadian
The plea deal that will send Guantanamo ex-prisoner David Hicks home to Australia has opened the way for a young Canadian awaiting trial at the U.S. naval base in Cuba to seek the same, defense lawyers said.

But Toronto-born Omar Khadr needs Canada's help to leave Guantanamo and so far there's no sign Canada wants him back.

"The Hicks case only served to reinforce the notion that if a country, particularly a Western ally of the United States, wants to get its citizens out of Guantanamo there are ways to do it," said Muneer Ahmad, an American University law professor helping defend Khadr in the U.S. military tribunals.

"I think it creates an opportunity for Canada to work out a solution for what is fundamentally a political problem."

Khadr is believed to be the last citizen of a Western nation among the 380 foreign captives held at Guantanamo as "enemy combatants". Most have been held for years without charge, and Guantanamo has been fiercely criticized by human rights groups.

The 20-year-old Canadian is charged with "murder, attempted murder, conspiring with al Qaeda to attack civilians, supporting terrorism and spying on U.S. forces in
Afghanistan" and has been held at Guantanamo for nearly five years.

Military prosecutors say he threw a grenade that killed a U.S. special forces medic in a battle at an al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15. He is also accused of planting roadway bombs.

His lawyers argue that trying him at Guantanamo violates international law. They have stepped up arguments that his rights as a Canadian are being breached.

Hicks' lawyers waged a similar campaign that helped rally Australian public support, and got a plea agreement that will send Hicks home by May 29 to serve nine months in jail.

"It has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with law," Ahmad said.

Military lawyers who negotiated Hicks' plea agreement have said the terms were not influenced by politics or politicians.

So far there have been no real discussions of a plea bargain for Khadr, his lawyers said. Like Hicks, Khadr faces a maximum sentence of life in prison but there is room for negotiation because there is no minimum sentence requirement.

"In every case there's an opportunity for deals to be struck. So I certainly wouldn't foreclose that opportunity," said chief tribunals prosecutor, Air Force Col. Moe Davis.
Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2007, 12:25
Add Comment