Canadian's Guantanamo trial delayed until November 10

Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:03pm EDT
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By Jane Sutton

MIAMI (Reuters) - The U.S. military has reset the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal of a young Canadian captive for November 10, meaning his murder trial will be delayed until after elections in the United States and Canada.

Omar Khadr's trial was scheduled to begin on October 8, but a military judge postponed it this month amid defense complaints that the government failed to turn over evidence.

The November trial date was announced on Tuesday for Toronto-born Khadr, who was 15 when captured after a firefight at a suspected al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan and accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. special forces soldier.

Khadr, who will turn 22 on Friday, faces life in prison if convicted in the special military tribunals created by the Bush administration to try foreign captives on terrorism charges outside the regular civilian and military courts.

Khadr's lawyers have asked that an independent psychologist and psychiatrist be allowed to examine him, arguing that his thinking may have been temporarily impaired by the 500-pound (225-kg) bombs that U.S. forces dropped on the compound before entering what was left of it.

If the request is granted, the trial would be "very unlikely" to start on November 10, said his military lawyer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler.

It was unclear whether the tribunals would continue under the next U.S. administration. Both major candidates vying to succeed President George W. Bush in the November 4 elections have said they would close the widely criticized detention operation on the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bush administration officials concede that the operation has stained the United States' image, but said efforts to send home more of the 255 remaining prisoners have been stymied and the camp's fate will likely be an issue for the next president.   Continued...

<p>A view of a control tower building for an abandoned airport at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base July 27, 2008. REUTERS/Randall Mikkelsen</p>