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Khadr tells court he previously rejected plea deal

Canadian Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] on Monday appeared at a pre-trial hearing and informed the court that he had previously rejected a plea deal offered by the US government. Under the plea agreement Khadr would have pleaded guilty to committing war crimes and been sentenced to 30 years in prison, with all but five years of the sentence suspended. 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, who fired his American defense lawyers [AFP report] last week, also informed the US military tribunal that he will not be participating or offer a defense when his case goes to trial, saying that the will be the same regardless of whether he is represented at trial. When Judge Patrick Parrish asked Khadr if he would be representing himself, Khadr indicated that he would be present at trial, but would not participate because the process offers him no hope of justice. Khadr is facing murder and terrorism charges [JURIST report] for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed one US soldier and injured another. He faces a life sentence if he is found guilty at his trial before the US military commission, which is set to begin on August 10 [JURIST report].

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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