Canadian tells Guantanamo jury of rape threat

Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:28pm EDT
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By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A young Canadian on Friday asked the U.S. military tribunal due to sentence him on terrorism and murder charges to keep in mind that U.S. interrogators tried to scare him with threats of gang rape and death.

"I know it does not change what I did but I hope you will think about it when you punish me," Toronto native Omar Khadr said in a statement to the war crimes tribunal at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba.

Khadr, 24, pleaded guilty on Monday to five charges that include conspiring with al Qaeda to attack civilians, murdering a U.S. soldier in battle and a making roadside bombs for use against U.S. convoys in Afghanistan. He committed these acts as a 15-year-old fighter with al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

The military jury is expected to begin deliberating his sentence on Saturday.

Khadr's plea agreement calls for his repatriation to Canada in one year to serve the rest of his sentence, which is reportedly capped at eight years. The jury can give him a shorter sentence but not a longer one.

Defense lawyers had hoped to win leniency by arguing that Khadr, a teenager when captured, was treated harshly at the Bagram base in Afghanistan and the Guantanamo detention center, where he has been held for eight years.

The judge ruled previously that Khadr was not tortured or abused in U.S. custody.

He refused to let the jury review evidence from a U.S. interrogator who testified under oath in April that he and a colleague had done exactly what Khadr claimed -- used indirect threats of gang-rape and murder while questioning him as a badly wounded 15-year-old captive at Bagram.   Continued...