Publié par la sénatrice Mobina Jaffer le 20 août 2010
Cet blogue est disponible dans la langue officielle dans laquelle il a été derigé.
This blog is available in the language in which it was written.
Over the past few weeks Omar Khadr’s trail has been full of surprises to say the least.
The highlight of the pre-trial that took place on Monday August 9th was the judge ruling that confessions Khadr made during his detention as well as the video of him constructing IED’s would be admitted into evidence.
The following Tuesday and Wednesday were dedicated to jury selection. The military commission system operates a jury made up of military personnel. Though only a minimum of 5 members are needed for a trial to proceed, the list of potential candidates to choose from is much larger. As such, 15 members of all four branches of the US armed services were flown to Guantanamo Bay from around the world for Khadr’s trial. They were interviewed by both the prosecution and defense on a variety of issues to determine their suitability for the case.
In the end, seven members were chosen – three females and four males. The make-up was quite diverse. As the Toronto Star reports, it included (in order of rank):
-a female Marine colonel who is a Purple Heart recipient and served in Iraq
-a male Navy captain who believes Guantanamo Bay is a ‘no win’ situation for the US
-a male Navy commander
-a male Army lieutenant-colonel who has worked as a health administrator in a US detention centre
-a female Army lieutenant-colonel who has served in Haiti
-a male lieutenant-commander submariner in the Navy
-a female Army major
Thursday, the 12th of August, was the first official day of Omar Khadr’s trial. In the morning, both counsels presented their opening arguments. Lt. Col. Jon Jackson – Khadr’s lone US defense attorney – advised the jury that his client didn’t kill Sgt. 1st class Christopher Speers and there is no evidence to prove otherwise. He added that the only reason his client was in the firefight was because Khadr’s father had told him to be there. Furthermore, Jackson argued that Khadr only confessed to throwing the grenade that killed Speers because he was “threatened with rape and murder” during his interrogation reports CBC.
The prosecution in there opening suggested that Khadr in fact confessed on his own free will, not under torture or mistreatment. They referred to Khadr as “a terrorist trained by al-Qaeda.” They urged the jury to convict Khadr on all five war crime charges laid against him.
Thursday also saw the testimony of the first prosecution witness - a solider only referred to as Col. W - who was in the 2002 firefight that killed Sgt. Speers. He described the day’s events leading to his colleague’s death. He also described how he saw Khadr in the rubble after the grenade was thrown and how he found two wounds in Khadr’s chest from gun shots. Col. W addressed a long standing point of contention surrounding his initial notes of the event. Originally, he had written that Khadr had been killed in the firefight. However, he later changed his notes to say that Khadr was wounded instead. He suggested that at first, while Khadr was being brought to Bagram, he believed Khadr would die due to his serious injuries. However, upon finding out that Khadr survived, he changed his notes.
During cross examination of a prosecution witness (it is not clear if it is Col. W), Lt. Col. Jackson didn’t feel so well and asked the judge for a brief recess. While walking back to his desk, Jackson unexpectedly collapsed. He awoke a minute later and was taken by ambulance to a base hospital. The trial was adjourned for the day.
Jackson was in hospital on Thursday night and on Friday was sent to the US mainland where he would be fully examined. It was on Friday as well that it was announced that the trial would be suspended for 30 days while Jackson obtains medical treatment and recovers. Many speculate that Jackson’s incident was related to gall bladder surgery he had a few weeks prior to the trail.
Lt. Col. Jackson is Khadr’s only defense lawyer. As such, it was suggested that the trial would wait for him to come back before proceeding. The jury members will be sent home during this period with instructions not to read or speak about this case until they come back to Guantanamo Bay next month.