Guantanamo judge threatens to halt Canadian case

Thu May 8, 2008 3:41pm EDT
 
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By Randall Mikkelsen

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A Guantanamo war court judge threatened on Thursday to halt the case of a Canadian terrorism suspect captured at age 15 if the U.S. government fails to turn over records of his detention.

The judge, Army Col. Peter Brownback, ordered prosecutors to give a classified daily prison-camp log to the military attorney for Omar Khadr, who is now 21 and facing trial on charges of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in 2002.

Khadr and his lawyer say he was mistreated by his U.S. captors and coerced into making incriminating statements. On Thursday, Brownback set a May 22 deadline for the prosecutors to obtain and hand over the log, referred to as "Binder 2," kept by the Guantanamo prison commanders.

He called it an essential hour-by-hour record of Khadr's treatment. "On the 22nd, you all will give them a copy of Binder 2. If you don't have it then at 1700 hours (5 p.m.) on the 22nd, we stop," he said.

Halting pretrial proceedings in the case, which is being followed intensely in Canada, would embarrass the U.S. government. Washington is fighting criticism about years-long delays in establishing a workable and fair trial system for prisoners captured in the war on terrorism launched by the United States after the September 11 attacks.

A halt could also lead to dismissal of one or more charges against Khadr, in a case seen as a test run for later trials against accused September 11 conspirators.

ABUSE ALLEGED

"The government has been beating on the military judge like a drum to set a trial date," Brownback said. But he said he could not until disputes over evidence and other issues are resolved. So far the task force running the prison has been unwilling to surrender the daily log.   Continued...