Guantanamo judge says sees no torture of Canadian

MIAMI (BestGrowthStock) – A military judge has ruled there is no credible evidence that a Canadian prisoner on trial in Guantanamo on murder and terrorism conspiracy charges was tortured into confessing after his capture in Afghanistan.

In a written ruling released by the Pentagon on Friday, Army Colonel Patrick Parrish gave his arguments for rejecting a motion by lawyers of Omar Khadr requesting that confessions made by Khadr to U.S. interrogators should not used as evidence in his trial on grounds they were obtained through torture.

A military tribunal trying Khadr opened proceedings last week at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba but was suspended for at least a month on August 13 after his main defense lawyer fell ill and was flown to the United States for treatment.

The lawyers for Toronto-born Khadr, who was captured at age 15 on an Afghan battlefield, claimed his statements were illegally obtained through torture and cruelty — including a story told to him by one interrogator about a young Afghan prisoner being raped by fellow inmates in a U.S. jail.

“There is no evidence that story caused the accused to make any incriminating statements then or in the future,” Parrish wrote in his ruling posted on the U.S. Defense Department website as http://www.defense.gov/news/D94-D111.pdf.

“There is no credible evidence the accused was ever tortured … even using a liberal interpretation considering the accused’s age,” he said. The ruling is dated August 17.

Khadr, now 23, has spent a third of his life in the Guantanamo detention camp and faces five charges that could put him in prison for life. His trial is the first war crimes tribunal anywhere since World War Two to prosecute someone for acts allegedly committed as a juvenile.

The U.N.’s special envoy for children in armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has criticized Khadr’s Guantanamo trial, saying it is of dubious legality and may set a dangerous precedent for child soldiers worldwide.

“NOT IMMATURE”

In his ruling, Parrish said while Khadr was 15 years old at the time of his capture, “he was not immature for his age.”

“The accused had sufficient training, education and experience to understand the circumstances in which he found himself,” he said.

Khadr was captured in a firefight at a suspected al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002 and is charged with murdering U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Speer with a hand grenade during the battle.

He also is charged with making roadside explosives for use against U.S.-led forces, spying on U.S. convoys, providing material support for terrorism and conspiring with al Qaeda to commit terrorism against civilians.

In rejecting the defense argument Khadr was tortured into confessing, Parrish said there was “credible evidence” that the accused started making incriminating statements only after he learned that American troops had found a videotape at the compound that showed him and others making improvised bombs.

The judge said the military commission concluded that Khadr’s statements were reliable and made voluntarily and were “not the product of torture or mistreatment.”

Khadr is the youngest of 176 men held at Guantanamo. His case will be the first contested trial at Guantanamo under the administration of President Barack Obama, who criticized and then revamped the tribunals and missed his January deadline for shutting down the detention camp.

Canada has declined to intervene in the Khadr trial, despite court rulings in Ottawa that his rights were violated when Canadian agents interrogated him at Guantanamo.

Guantanamo judge says sees no torture of Canadian