Punish Canadian severely, Guantanamo court urged

Sat Oct 30, 2010 5:25pm EDT
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By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A prosecutor urged a U.S. war crimes tribunal on Saturday to sentence a young Canadian and admitted al Qaeda murderer to 25 more years in prison and said anything less would give license to militants.

A military defense lawyer said Omar Khadr, who was captured in a firefight in Afghanistan at age 15, had abandoned the jihadist teachings of his al Qaeda financier father, apologized to his victims and accepted responsibility for his actions.

He called Khadr "a child with a bad dad" and urged the military jurors to free him and give him a chance to go to school and become a contributing member of society.

"This case is about giving Omar Khadr a first chance because he's never had it," Lieutenant Colonel Jon Jackson told the jury. "There's going to be no good keeping him here."

Khadr, now 24, pleaded guilty on Monday to five war crimes after being held at the Guantanamo detention camp for eight years.

He admitted conspiring with al Qaeda, making bombs for use against U.S. troops and killing an American soldier with a grenade during a battle in which Khadr was shot twice and blinded in one eye.

The jury deliberated for more than five hours on Saturday then retired for the night. They could order anything from no further punishment to life in prison.

Their decision could be largely moot because the Toronto native's plea agreement reportedly limits the sentence to eight years, most of it to be served in Canada. The jury could subtract but not add to that.   Continued...

<p>A courtroom sketch shows defendant Omar Khadr, a native of Toronto, Canada, listening to testimony during his sentencing hearing at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, October 26, 2010. REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool</p>