Omar Khadr's case may resume: lawyer

Wed Apr 29, 2009 5:32pm EDT
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By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The case against a Canadian inmate of Guantanamo Bay that was halted by U.S. President Barack Obama will resume on June 1 unless the administration intervenes, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

Walter Ruiz, one of the lawyers for Toronto-born Omar Khadr, said his team had received the announcement from one of the judges presiding over the case of his client.

"We just received a scheduling order from Judge (Patrick) Parrish yesterday, who is a judge on the Omar Khadr case, indicating that absent any action by the current administration or any request for a continuance, the proceedings will resume on June 1," Ruiz told reporters.

"That is an unacceptable circumstance," he added.

Khadr is charged with killing a U.S. soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002, when he was 15. Khadr, now 22, is the only citizen of a Western nation still imprisoned at Guantanamo. He has been there for seven years.

Upon taking office in January, President Obama created a task force to review detainee policy and terrorism prosecutions. The panel, which includes the attorney general, defense secretary, CIA director and other top officials, was given a 180-day deadline to report back to the president.

At Obama's order, prosecutors in the Guantanamo war crimes court sought and won a 120-day freeze on proceedings in pending cases. The freeze expires on May 20 and hearings have been set to resume within days of the expiration.

Because of the logistics involved, the administration must decide soon whether to seek a 60-day extension of the freeze or resume the hearings. It could also drop the charges and re-file them later, officials involved in the trials said.   Continued...