Ottawa fights repatriation of Guantanamo inmate

Fri Nov 13, 2009 6:08pm EST
 
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian courts grossly overstepped their authority when they ordered Ottawa to ask Washington to repatriate a Canadian held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, a lawyer for the federal government argued on Friday.

The government wants the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn lower court decisions that ruled it had to ask the United States to repatriate Omar Khadr, who is accused of killing a U.S. soldier during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan.

The court heard oral arguments on Friday, and Khadr's legal team asked it to give a speedy ruling.

The hearing before Canada's highest court coincided with an announcement from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that Khadr was one of 10 Guantanamo inmates -- among 215 held there now -- against whom prosecutions would proceed.

Khadr's lawyers say Ottawa violated Khadr's rights in refusing to ask the United States to send him home, but the federal government argues the courts could not dictate how it conducts foreign affairs.

"The courts have no more authority to order the government to request (Khadr's) repatriation than they have the power to order the government to recall the U.S. ambassador in protest or to order the government to amass our warships on the Baltic," federal lawyer Robert Frater told the court.

Two successive federal governments have declined to seek the repatriation of Khadr, now the last citizen of a western nation held at the Guantanamo prison on Cuba.

"We believe the U.S. legal process announced today should run its course," Conservative legislator Pierre Poilievre said on behalf of the government, noting that Khadr is charged with murder and with preparing roadside bombs in Afghanistan.   Continued...

 
<p>A drawing by artist Janet Hamlin, reviewed by the US military, shows young Canadian captive, Omar Khadr, who is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in July 2002, attending a pre-trial session at the Guantanamo Bay naval base December 12, 2008. REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool</p>