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Americas

Canadian Guantanamo inmate appears before military court

Video by Yuka ROYER

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-08-10

Guantanamo Bay's youngest prisoner Omar Khadr appeared before a US military court on Monday, where prosecutors presented a video to convince the court that the Canadian inmate had not been mistreated while held at the controversial facility.

REUTERS - Prosecutors presented on Monday a 15-minute video of seven guards struggling to weigh a Canadian prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, trying to convince a U.S. war crimes court that the young man had not been mistreated.
 
U.S. military prosecutors showed the video as part of their effort to undercut Toronto-born defendant Omar Khadr's claims that he was abused in U.S. custody after being captured at age 15 on an Afghan battlefield.
 
Khadr's U.S. military lawyer said the video, taken by the Guantanamo guard staff, actually bolstered the prisoner's claims of mistreatment at the hands of American forces.
 

Khadr's trial on charges including murder and terrorism conspiracy is due to start on Tuesday at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay.
 
But before that, the judge must decide whether Khadr's confessions to U.S. interrogators were illegally obtained through torture and cruelty. The defence has asked the judge to throw out Khadr's statements.
 
Khadr, a 23-year-old who has already spent a third of his life in the Guantanamo detention camp, faces five charges that could put him in prison for life.
 
The video shows Khadr, then 19, encircled by camouflage-clad guards who tell him that the International Committee of the Red Cross has mandated that he be weighed.
 
Khadr struggled and resisted, claiming he had to go to the bathroom, then cried and said he had been brought to Guantanamo illegally and was being mistreated as part of a U.S. war on Islam.
 
"The rules doesn't say to capture a kid and deprive him of all his rights ... am I an animal?" Khadr asked. "Sooner or later, God will take our revenge and he's going to send on you people who will torture you."
 
The guards held Khadr by his belt during the struggle. They addressed him by his prisoner number, shouting, "766, cease resistance." Later they tried another approach, telling him, "All you got to do is stand on that, get weighed. ... Ain't nothing going to happen to you, nothing bad."
 
Khadr is the youngest of 176 men held at Guantanamo. His trial will be the first war crimes tribunal anywhere since World War Two to prosecute someone for acts allegedly committed as a juvenile.
 
His case will be the first contested trial at Guantanamo under the administration of President Barack Obama, who criticized and then revamped the tribunals and missed his January deadline for shutting down the detention camp.

'SIR, BE A VOICE'
 
Khadr's lawyer, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Jon Jackson, said Khadr's confessions were obtained through inhumane treatment that began when his first interrogator in Afghanistan made indirect threats of gang rape and death.

Jackson said that initial encounter poisoned all subsequent interrogations, which he asked the judge to throw out.
 
"Tell the government that they cannot and will not benefit from someone being threatened with rape and torture," Jackson urged the judge. "Sir, be a voice today. Tell the world that we actually stand for what we say we stand for."
 
Prosecutors cited testimony from FBI and U.S. naval intelligence agents who said Khadr spoke to them freely during friendly and respectful sessions in which no one ever even
yelled.
 
"He's trying to manipulate this court into believing that the people here who went to great lengths to act professionally were mistreating him," said U.S. Air Force Captain Chris Eason, one of the prosecutors.
 
He said the video showed Khadr was humanely treated.
 
"They gave in to his demands. They let him go to the bathroom. They gave him new flip-flops. They gave him a new Koran," Eason said.
 
Khadr read a soccer magazine while the video was shown and never looked up at the screen in the courtroom.
 
Khadr was captured in a firefight at a suspected al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002 and is charged with murdering a U.S. soldier with a grenade.
 
He is also charged with making roadside explosives for use against U.S.-led forces, spying on U.S. convoys, providing material support for terrorism and conspiring with al Qaeda to commit terrorism against civilians.
 
In another courtroom, Sudanese captive Ibrahim al Qosi was to be sentenced on Monday for conspiring with al Qaeda and providing material support for terrorism. The former head cook and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden pleaded guilty last month and admitted he helped the al Qaeda leader escape U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Date created : 2010-08-09

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