Guantanamo Canadian to serve 8 more years in prison

Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:57pm EDT
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By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A U.S. war crimes tribunal on Sunday sentenced Canadian captive Omar Khadr to 40 years in prison for charges that included murdering an American soldier in battle, but his plea agreement capped his sentence at eight years.

That means the Toronto native will only serve eight more years, in addition to the eight he has already spent in detention at the Guantanamo Bay naval base.

His plea deal calls for him to be sent home to Canada in one year to serve the rest of his sentence there, although "The decision on that is solely up to the Canadian government," said the judge, Army Colonel Patrick Parrish.

Diplomatic notes exchanged between Washington and Ottawa gave assurances that would happen, the lawyers said.

Khadr pleaded guilty on Monday to all five charges against him, including conspiring with al Qaeda to commit terrorist acts, making roadside bombs to target U.S. troops in Afghanistan, spying on American military convoys and providing material support for terrorism.

Khadr was 15 years old when captured in Afghanistan in 2002 and is now 24. He is the first person since World War Two to be prosecuted in a war crimes tribunal for acts committed as a juvenile.

Now tall and broad-shouldered with a full beard, Khadr wore a gray suit and stood to face the seven U.S. military officers of the jury as the verdict was read. He stared straight ahead, then seemed to smile in relief.

Tabitha Speer, the widow of the U.S. special forces soldier Khadr admitted killing with a grenade, cheered and raised a fist in the air as the jury's decision was read in the hilltop courtroom at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba.   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>