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Americas

Former child soldier Omar Khadr to serve eight-year sentence

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-01

A US military tribunal sentenced former child soldier Omar Khadr, captured in Afghanistan at 15 and detained at Guantanamo Bay prison since 2002, to 40 years in prison on Sunday, although a plea deal means he will serve only eight years behind bars.

REUTERS - A U.S. war crimes tribunal on Sunday sentenced Canadian captive Omar Khadr to 40 years in prison for charges that included murdering an American soldier in battle, but his plea agreement capped his sentence at eight years.

That means the Toronto native will only serve eight more years, in addition to the eight he has already spent in detention at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base.
 
His plea deal calls for him to be sent home to Canada in one year to serve the rest of his sentence there, although "The decision on that is solely up to the Canadian government," said the judge, Army Colonel Patrick Parrish.
 
Diplomatic notes exchanged between Washington and Ottawa gave assurances that would happen, Khadr's lawyers said previously.
 
Khadr pleaded guilty on Monday to all five charges against him, including conspiring with al Qaeda to commit terrorist acts, making roadside bombs to target U.S. troops in Afghanistan, spying on American military convoys and providing material support for terrorism.
 
The Toronto native was 15 years old when captured in Afghanistan in 2002 and is now 24. He is the first person since World War Two to be prosecuted in a war crimes tribunal for acts committed as a juvenile.
 
Now tall and broad-shouldered with a full beard, Khadr wore a gray suit and stood to face the seven U.S. military officers of the jury as the verdict was read. He stared straight ahead, then seemed to smile in relief.
 
Tabitha Speer, the widow of the U.S. special forces soldier Khadr admitted killing with a grenade, cheered and raised a fist in the air as the jury's decision was read in the hilltop courtroom at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba.
 
Her husband, Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Speer, was among more than 1,000 U.S. troops killed in hostilities during the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Khadr is the only person held liable for any of those deaths.
 
He is the fifth man convicted by the war crimes tribunal established after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 to try foreign captives on terrorism charges.
 
The jurors, whose names were kept secret, declined to discuss their verdict with journalists.
 
Khadr is the second to plead guilty during the presidency of Barack Obama, whose efforts to close the Guantanamo detention camp have been blocked by Congress.
 
Khadr is the youngest of the 174 prisoners held at Guantanamo. He was taken to Afghanistan by his father, a senior al Qaeda member, and apprenticed to a group of bombmakers who opened fire when U.S. troops came to their compound near the city of Khost. Khadr was captured in the battle, during which he was blinded in one eye and shot twice in the back.

 

Date created : 2010-10-31

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