Canada must help Guantanamo inmate: appeal court

Fri Aug 14, 2009 3:12pm EDT
 
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada must press Washington for the release of Omar Khadr, a Canadian who has been held in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since October 2002, an appeal court said on Friday.

The minority Conservative government had appealed a judgment by a lower court in April that ordered Ottawa to intercede on behalf of Khadr, who is charged with killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in July 2002, when Khadr was 15.

The Federal Court of Appeal decision marked another setback for Ottawa in the case. The government has refused to intervene because it says Khadr faces serious charges.

The lower court judge ruled in April that Ottawa had to help Khadr because his rights under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been infringed.

The appeal court said the initial judge "did not err in law or fact when he concluded that, in the particular circumstances of this case, the Crown's refusal to request Mr. Khadr's repatriation is a breach of Mr. Khadr's rights".

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the federal justice ministry would review the decision. He would not say whether Ottawa might appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

Khadr, now 22, is the only citizen of a western nation still imprisoned at Guantanamo.

Opposition legislators and other critics say Canada should press for the Khadr's release on the grounds that he was a child soldier when the alleged killing took place.   Continued...

 
<p>In this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin, reviewed by the U.S. Military, Canadian defendant Omar Khadr reacts as he watches a video allegedly showing him as a 15-year-old helping make and plant improvised explosive devices years earlier in Afghanistan, during a hearing at the U.S. Military Commissions court for war crimes, at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, January 19, 2009. REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool</p>