Canadian's Guantanamo trial delayed amid talks

Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:38pm EDT
 
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By Jane Sutton

MIAMI (Reuters) - A U.S. military judge on Thursday postponed the Guantanamo war crimes trial of a Canadian prisoner captured in Afghanistan at age 15 while his lawyers tried to reach a deal for him to plead guilty in exchange for leniency.

A military tribunal had been set to resume on Monday at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base for Toronto-born Omar Khadr. But the judge delayed it for a week, to October 25, the Pentagon announced.

A plea deal would end a widely criticized trial that made the United States the first nation since World War Two to prosecute someone in a war crimes tribunal for acts allegedly committed as a juvenile.

Khadr is accused of murdering a U.S. soldier with a grenade during a battle in Afghanistan in 2002, when Khadr was 15 years old.

"There are negotiations going on but there's no deal and we're not commenting on the details," one of Khadr's Canadian attorneys, Nate Whitling, told Reuters.

The Ottawa Citizen newspaper said the plea deal would allow Khadr, now 24, to serve an eight-year sentence, seven of them in Canada. He was sent to Guantanamo shortly after he turned 16 and has already spent more than eight years there with adult prisoners.

He could face life in prison if found guilty in military court.

Any deal would require agreement from U.S. military prosecutors and the governments of Canada and the United States. U.S. military officials declined to comment.   Continued...

 
<p>In this courtroom sketch, Canadian defendant Omar Khadr (L) attends the first day of his hearing in the courthouse for the U.S. military war crimes commission at the Camp Justice compound on Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba August 9, 2010. REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool</p>