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Khadr pleads guilty to terrorism charges

Former Canadian Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials, JURIST news archive] on Monday pleaded guilty [press release] to all five charges against him, including conspiracy, murder and aiding the enemy. Under the terms of the agreement, Khadr will serve up to eight more years in prison [NYT report] in addition to the eight he has already spent in detention. At least one of those years will be spent at Guantanamo Bay. One other purported condition of the plea is that the US will support Khadr's eventual application for transfer to Canada, a bargain that has been agreed to by the US and Canada [Toronto Sun report] through a series of sealed diplomatic notes. The guilty plea marks a reversal from Khadr's original stance, voiced by one of his attorneys, that he would not accept a plea deal [JURIST report]. Khadr's sentence will be determined by a panel of seven senior military officers at a hearing that will begin Tuesday.

Khadr's guilty plea makes him the fifth person, and first child soldier, to be convicted of war crimes at Guantanamo Bay. Khadr's trial was postponed earlier this month [JURIST report] while lawyers for both sides attempted to reach a plea agreement. In late August, the military judge rejected Khadr's claim that his confession was a byproduct of torture [JURIST report]. Earlier in August, the same judge ruled that Khadr's confession was admissible at trial [JURIST report]. Canada, which has agreed to accept a transfer after Khadr's sentence is imposed, had previously declined to seek Khadr's repatriation [JURIST report]. Khadr was charged after he was captured following a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002 in which he threw a hand grenade that killed one US soldier and wounded another.

10/26/10 - A signed stipulation of fact [text, PDF] confirms that Khadr was an al Qaeda member, that he threw the grenade and that the felt "happy" when he learned an American soldier had been killed.

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