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Canadian Guantanamo detainee boycotts military commission hearings

[JURIST] Nineteen-year-old Canadian Omar Khadr [JURIST news archive] refused to take part in military commission proceedings [JURIST news archive] during a pretrial hearing at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] Wednesday, claiming that he was mistreated [JURIST report] and sent to solitary confinement for no reason. Khadr currently faces charges [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] of murder and conspiracy to commit war crimes stemming from a 2002 incident in Afghanistan where he allegedly killed US Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer with a grenade during a firefight at a suspected al Qaeda compound.

Members of the Khadr family [CBC backgrounder] emigrated to Canada from Egypt in 1977 and are suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden and Khadr is also accused of receiving al Qaeda training. Lawyers for Khadr, however, claim that he had no al Qaeda involvement, and say that since he was fifteen at the time of the murder, the military commission violates international law. Khadr is being tried as an adult, and will face a life sentence if convicted. The US is currently working on plans to seek the extradition [JURIST report] of Omar's brother Abdullah Khadr, who has been charged [indictment, PDF; JURIST report] with procuring weapons for al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Reuters has more.

3/6/06 9:02 AM ET - Khadr's lawyer on Wednesday asked presiding judge Col. Robert S. Chester to stop the military commission proceedings until the government can clarify what rules govern proceedings. In a separate proceeding Tuesday, Chester seemed unsure of what laws would be applied [JURIST report] in the Guantanamo detainees' trial, but said that military criminal law and federal criminal laws and procedure could govern. In the Khadr proceeding, the Canadian's lawyers expressed frustration over a lack of clear procedural rules, and after Chester indicated that he wasn't sure whether a Canadian lawyer was allowed to appear in the military courtroom Khadr's military lawyer asked that proceedings be halted "until the government gets the rules together." AP has more.

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