[Ppnews] Guantanamo Prisoner Denounces US Deal

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jul 12 20:19:18 EDT 2010

Defiant Khadr denounces U.S. military commission

Anna Mehler Paperny

U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba ­ From 
Tuesday's Globe and Mail Published on Monday, 
Jul. 12, 2010 11:02AM EDT Last updated on Monday, Jul. 12, 2010 7:56PM EDT

After eight years in U.S. custody, Omar Khadr had the floor.

Appearing in a courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 
the Canadian terror suspect publicly explained 
himself in his own words for the first time 
Monday morning, condemning the military 
commission set to try him as a “sham process” so 
divorced from legal norms that he's as well 
trained to defend himself as any lawyer.

“The unfairness of the rules will make a person 
so depressed that he will admit to any 
allegations or take a plea offer that will 
satisfy the U.S. government,” he said.

Guantanamo Bay's youngest inmate, and its only 
Canadian, spoke more forcefully and at greater 
length than ever before. The 23-year-old 
expressed his contempt not only for the military 
tribunal, but for a plea deal offered to him within the past month.

Mr. Khadr and one of his Canadian lawyers, Dennis 
Edney, said he had been offered release from the 
U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in five years, to 
serve the rest of a 30-year sentence in Canada, 
if he pleaded guilty. He refused.

“I will not willingly let the U.S. government use 
me to fulfill its goal,” Mr. Khadr said. “I have 
been used too many times when I was a child, and 
that's why I'm here – taking blame for things I 
didn't have a choice in doing, but was forced to do by elders.”

The prosecution spokesman on Mr. Khadr's case 
would not comment on the proffered plea 
agreement. In Ottawa, Foreign Affairs spokeswoman 
Melissa Lantsman said the Canadian government 
“was not privy to the details of the plea deal.”

Even as Mr. Khadr was speaking, Ottawa said it 
will appeal last week’s ruling by the Federal 
Court of Canada obliging the federal government 
to remedy violations of his constitutional rights.

Toronto-born Mr. Khadr, who was 15 when 
prosecutors allege he threw a grenade that killed 
U.S. Army Sergeant Christopher Speer during 
firefight in Afghanistan, entered the court 
unshackled, with a guard on either side. He was 
dressed in the loose-fitting white prison garb 
that is given to Guantanamo's most co-operative detainees.

He sat beside Mr. Edney, the Edmonton-based 
lawyer who has no standing before the U.S. 
military commission, and spent the morning of the 
proceedings leaning forward, his thickly bearded 
chin resting on his fist. Occasionally he 
appeared to smile, the corners of his eyes crinkling.

Mr. Khadr has spoken in court before. But his 
prepared statement, a handwritten, single-spaced 
sheet of lined paper headed “Arabic-English 
language class” and covered in a scrawl that 
switched from black to red ink about a third of 
the way through, was a far cry from his last 
written submission to the military tribunal – a 
two-sentence note arguing that he was being 
punished for co-operating and demanding to be treated “humainly and fair.”

He sparred verbally with military judge Colonel 
Patrick Parrish, who asked him repeatedly if he 
was sure he wanted to represent himself. The 
judge was bemused – along with much of the rest 
of the courtroom – when Mr. Khadr said in the 
same breath he wants to represent himself and to 
boycott the proceedings he declared illegitimate.

Does Mr. Khadr have the legal training required 
to represent himself “just as if you were a lawyer?” Col. Parrish asked.

“Doesn't matter,” Mr. Khadr shot back. “I've been 
here a long time – five years in a military 
commission. And that's good enough for me.”

Mr. Khadr repeatedly said it doesn't matter who 
defends him, or fails to do so. He insisted he'll 
get a life sentence – the maximum penalty for the 
charges against him, which include murder and 
supporting terrorism – either way.

Despite his repeated protestations and his stated 
desire to boycott the remainder of his trial and 
have no one speak on his behalf, Mr. Khadr still 
has a lawyer, albeit a conflicted one.

Military-appointed lawyer Lieutenant-Colonel Jon 
Jackson asked Col. Parrish for time to ask his 
Arkansas bar association whether it would violate 
his ethics as a lawyer to actively defend a man 
who doesn't want to be defended.

Mr. Khadr told the judge: “You're forcing him on 
me. I don't want him to be my lawyer. There are 
not going to be any discussions between me and Jackson.”

Depending on the resolution of the issue, Mr. 
Khadr will either be represented against his will 
or there will be no defence as the first 
military- commissions trial of Barack Obama's 
presidency gets under way as early as next month.

Comparisons are being made to the case of Ali 
Hamza al-Bahlul, a Yemeni who publicly announced 
a boycott of Guantanamo court proceedings. His 
lawyer accordingly mounted no defence and Mr. 
al-Bahlul was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

“It could be that if he [Col. Jackson] zealously 
defends his client against his wishes, he could 
be disbarred for it,” said American Civil 
Liberties Union spokeswoman Jennifer Turner, who 
is an observer at this week’s hearings.

Marine Colonel Jeffrey Colwell, who's in charge 
of Guantanamo's defence lawyers, said the 
back-and-forth in court creates more questions than answers.

“These are difficult issues we're dealing with in 
Guantanamo. You really can't make this stuff up,” 
he said. “Omar says he's boycotting. What does 
that mean? I don't think the judge knows what 
that means. Maybe Omar doesn't know what that means.”

David Iglesias, a spokesman for the prosecution 
in Mr. Khadr's case, said it makes no difference 
to them who represents the accused. In court, 
prosecutor Jeff Groharing's only real frustration 
seemed to be with the delay caused by Col. 
Jackson's desire to wait to proceed until he gets 
the okay from his bar association.

“We take no position on whether Mr. Khadr could 
or should represent himself,” Mr. Iglesias said. 
“We want to go to trial. We're ready to go to 
trial. Hopefully, as scheduled, next month.”

Gitmo prisoner rejects plea deal

Mon, 12 Jul 2010 21:11:09 GMT

A young Canadian prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay 
detention facility has rejected a plea deal that 
would allow him to serve a shorter prison 
sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to a war crime.

“I will not take any of the offers because it'll 
give the US government an excuse for torturing me 
and abusing me when I was a child," AFP quoted 
Omar Khadr as telling a military tribunal at the 
Guantanamo detention facility on Monday.

Khadr confirmed that US officials have offered him a plea deal.

According to the deal, if he pleads guilty to 
committing a war crime, he will receive a 
five-year prison sentence instead of the 30 years he faces.

Khadr, the last Westerner at Guantanamo, has 
dismissed his defense team for the third time and 
says he will not attend the proceedings.

“It's going to be the same thing with lawyers or 
without lawyers. It's gonna be a life sentence,” Khadr said.

Khadr, who is now 23 years old, was 15 when US 
forces in Afghanistan took him prisoner in 2002. 
He was later charged with war crimes based on the 
allegation that he threw a grenade that killed a US soldier.

The United States says 181 detainees still remain 
at the notorious Guantanamo detention center.

However, dozens of them have been held without charges or trial.

Amnesty International has urged the US government 
to immediately release the prisoners held at 
Guantanamo or to charge and try them in accordance with international law.

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