The upcoming trial is one of Guantanamo’s most controversial cases. Canadian citizen Omar Khadr is the only Westerner still being held at this military prison; he was detained in Afghanistan at the age of 15. He’s now 23.
International law says children captured on the battlefield must be treated as victims, and not as perpetrators. Child-soldiers are supposed to be rehabilitated and given the chance to re-enter society.
Omar Khadr hasn’t been treated as a victim nor has he been rehabilitated because the United States says he isn’t a soldier and al-Qaeda isn’t an army.
It’s been widely reported that the US would have preferred to have reached a plea deal with Khadr, rather than have his case go to trial.
The Canadian has refused, and in a letter to his lawyer dated May 27 Omar Khadr wrote, “I have an obligation to show the world what is going on down here, it seems that we have done everything but the world doesn’t get it so it might work if the world sees the US sentencing a child to life in prison”…
He seems frustrated and has suggested he plans to boycott his trial. It’s worth mentioning that Omar Khadr has often claimed he’s been tortured. He’s said that military interrogators threatened him with gang-rape and murder if he didn’t co-operate and at an earlier hearing a former US Army sergeant seemed to confirm that claim…
Some people view military trials as a test of a judicial process that’s faced international criticism and been revised several times by higher US courts. For Omar Khadr, the next few days are about his future, not the system.
Notes from the reporter follow