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Khadr sentenced by military jury

A panel of seven senior US military officers on Sunday sentenced [press release] Canadian Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] to 40 years in prison, but Khadr will serve no more than eight years under the terms of a guilty plea agreement [press release]. Khadr pleaded guilty [JURIST report] last week to all five charges against him, including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism and espionage, agreeing to serve an eight-year sentence. He will serve only one year of his sentence at Guantanamo and will then be able to apply to be transferred to Canada and will be eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence. According to a diplomatic note agreement [materials, PDF] between the US and Canada, Khadr's application will be "favourably" considered. Khadr is the fifth person to be convicted by a Guantanamo military court, but is the first to be charged with murder and convicted for a crime committed as a juvenile. Khadr was charged at the age of 15, 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. In addition to pleading guilty, Khadr signed a stipulation of fact [text, PDF] confirming that he was a member of al Qaeda, that he threw the grenade and that he felt "happy" when he learned an American soldier had been killed.

Last week, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict [official website] urged the US not to imprison [JURIST report] Khadr. Radhika Coomaraswamy [official profile], through a letter sent to the US military commission, stated that Khadr meets the classic qualifications for being considered a child solider and that returning him to Canada for rehabilitation would be a better outcome than a US prison. 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 had previously declined to seek Khadr's repatriation [JURIST report].

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