Former Guantanamo detainee Khadr to appeal terrorism conviction

[JURIST] A former Canadian Guantanamo prisoner is planning to appeal his US terrorism conviction, his lawyer said Sunday. Omar Khadr [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who spent 10 years in Guantanamo, is currently imprisoned [AP report] in a maximum security prison in Ontario serving out six years of an eight-year sentence for war crimes. Khadr was born in Toronto and is the son of alleged al Qaeda financier Ahmed Said Khadr [CBC profile]. In 2010 Khadr pleaded guilty to a number of crimes as part of a plea bargain, including the killing a US solider in Afghanistan when he was 15. Khadr's lawyers hope that his conviction can be appealed on the same grounds as Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman Al Bahlul [HRW profile; JURIST news archive], the media secretary for Osama bin Laden [JURIST news archive] whose conspiracy conviction was vacated by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website]. The DC Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that the military tribunal that convicted Al Bahlul of conspiracy in 2007 erred because a Guantanamo prisoner could not be convicted of conspiracy unless his crime took place after 2006. The court explained that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) [text, PDF] codified conspiracy as a war crime, but did not apply to crimes committed before the MCA was passed.

Last week the DC Court of appeals agreed to an en banc review of its January decision vacating Al Bahlul's conspiracy conviction. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] had asked the DC Circuit to reverse the conviction because the court is bound by its decision last October to dismiss the case [JURIST reports] against bin Laden's former driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan. With last week's decision, the entire DC Circuit can now review both cases. Oral argument is set for September 30. Khadr was transferred [JURIST report] to Canada in 2012. In 2010 he claimed that his confession to the charges against him was a byproduct of torture, but those claims were rejected [JURIST report] by a military judge.

 

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