US military judge rejects Khadr torture claims

[JURIST] US military judge Army Colonel Patrick Parrish rejected [ruling, PDF] claims by Canadian Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] that his confession was a byproduct of torture, in a ruling released Friday. Khadr's lawyers had argued [motion, PDF] that his statements were illegally obtained through threats of rape and death by interrogators. Parrish rejected the suppression motion, finding:

There is no credible evidence the accused was ever tortured as that term is defined under M.C.R.E. 304(b)(3), even using a liberal interpretation considering the accused's age. While Interrogator #1 told the accused a story about the rape of an Afghan youth in an American prison, there is no evidence that story caused the accused to make any incriminating statements then or in the future. In fact, the credible evidence is that the accused started to make incriminating statements only after he learned the Americans found the videotape at the compound where the firefight took place which shows the accused and others making improvised explosives and placing them along the roadside at night.
Parrish also cited Khadr's refusal to testify and a lack of evidence corroborating his affidavit as factors in the determination. The ruling will allow for Khadr's inculpatory statements to be admissible as evidence, as well as a video that Khadr's lawyers claimed was found as a result of intelligence improperly obtained from Khadr. The trial is the first contested military commission [JURIST news archive] trial under the Obama administration. If Khadr is found guilty, he could face a life sentence.

The trial was suspended last week two days after it began [JURIST reports] due to a medical emergency involving Khadr's lawyer, Lt. Colonel Jon Jackson. Khadr pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and terrorism [JURIST report] for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed one US soldier and injured another when he was 15. UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy [official profile] criticized the proceedings [press release], arguing the trial would set a dangerous precedent for child soldiers [CFR backgrounder] worldwide. She explained that "[c]hild soldiers must be treated primarily as victims and alternative procedures should be in place aimed at rehabilitation or restorative justice." The trial has also been criticized by Canadian Senator Romeo Dallaire (L-QC) [official website], who has questioned the legitimacy of the proceedings. The US Supreme Court refused to block the trial earlier this month, and the US District Court for the District of Columbia in July declined to lift the stay [JURIST reports] on his habeas corpus petition pending the conclusion of the trial.

 

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