Guantanamo Canadian Khadr to serve 8 more years in prison

Mon Nov 1, 2010 2:44pm 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 a young Canadian to 40 years in prison, but he may serve only a few more years under a deal that included his admission he was an al Qaeda conspirator who murdered a U.S. soldier.

Toronto native Omar Khadr's plea agreement capped his sentence at eight years, in addition to the eight he has already spent in detention at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba.

The deal calls for Guantanamo's youngest prisoner to be sent home to Canada in one year to serve the rest of his sentence. Washington and Ottawa exchanged diplomatic notes that said both governments supported the transfer, and acknowledged Khadr could apply for parole in Canada after serving one third of the sentence.

Khadr pleaded guilty last week 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 stared at the seven U.S. military officers of the jury as the sentence was read, then seemed to smile in relief.

Tabitha Speer, the widow of the U.S. special forces soldier Khadr admitted murdering with a grenade, cheered and raised a fist in the air.

She later called the jury's 40-year sentence "a victory not just for my family but for hundreds of families out there."   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>