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Khadr military lawyer to offer vigorous defense

A US military lawyer for Canadian Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] announced Saturday that he will vigorously defend Khadr at his US military commission trial scheduled to begin next month [JURIST report]. Khadr fired his US civilian lawyers [AFP report] earlier this month and requested that his US military lawyer be fired as well. Judge Patrick Parrish denied Khadr's request and ordered US Army Lt-Col. Jon Jackson to remain Khadr's lawyer and provide him with a defense at trial. Jackson initially questioned the ethical implications of defending a suspect who does not wish to provide a defense [Toronto Sun report], but ultimately concluded that he was ethically bound to provide a zealous defense for Khadr. At a pre-trial hearing held last week [JURIST report], Khadr informed the court that he had previously rejected a plea deal offered by the US government, which would have resulted in a five-year prison sentence. Khadr told the court that the agreement was a ploy by the US government to look good in the eyes of the international community and that he would not be used to achieve US goals. He also said the agreement would have been used to excuse the torture and abuse of a child [Reuters report]. Khadr also informed the court that he did not wish to mount a defense at trial because he believed the outcome would be the same regardless of his defense and that he had no hope of obtaining justice through the legal process. Khadr is facing murder and terrorism charges [JURIST report] for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed one US soldier and injured another. If he is found guilty, he could face a sentence of life in prison.

Khadr's defense lawyers have repeatedly sought his repatriation [JURIST report] to Canada on the basis that the Canadian government's refusal to request repatriation from the US violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text]. The Harper administration announced in February that they would not pursue Khadr's repatriation, after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the government was not obligated to seek his return [JURIST reports] to Canada despite having his Charter rights violated. In May, a UN official called on the US and Canada to respect international conventions [JURIST report] and release Khadr into Canadian custody. The UN claimed that since Khadr was 15 when he was captured, his detention would fall in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [text], which has been ratified by Canada, but not the US.

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