Header Ads

Canada is paying a man $10.5M who murdered an American soldier and severely wounded another

Omar Khadr, pictured with his longtime lawyer Dennis Edney in 2015, was only 15 years old when he was shot and detained by U.S. Special Forces following a firefight in Afghanistan. 

The Canadian government will apologize to Omar Khadr and has settled a multimillion-dollar lawsuit with Toronto-born former detainee for abuses that occurred during his U.S. detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, the Toronto Star has learned.

Khadr’s lawyers met with the Department of Justice attorneys behind closed doors last month to reach the deal.

While the details of the settlement are not yet disclosed, it is reportedly less than the $20 million sought in the civil suit, but more than $10 million, which was what Canadian Maher Arar received following his yearlong detention and torture in Syria in 2002.

Lawyers Dennis Edney and John Phillips had argued in the case that has been ongoing since 2004, that Canada, a world leader for the rights for child soldiers, violated international law by not protecting its own citizen and conspiring with the U.S. in its abuse of Khadr. The allegations span years where both the Liberals and Conservatives have been in power.

Khadr was only 15 years old when he was shot and detained by U.S. Special Forces following a firefight in Afghanistan. The Pentagon charged Khadr with “murder in violation of the laws of war,” for the death of Delta Force soldier Sgt. Christopher Speer, who was fatally wounded in the July 2002 firefight.

Thousands of American service members were killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but Khadr remains the only captive the U.S. has prosecuted for murder under the Military Commissions Act, which the U.S. drafted following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Prior to 9/11, it was not considered a war crime to kill a soldier in a war zone.

Khadr accepted a plea deal in Guantanamo in 2010 in return for being able to come back to Canada. But he said in a 2015 interview with the Star that he doesn’t know if he threw the grenade that ultimately killed Speer and saw the deal as his only way out of the prison.

Speer’s widow, Tabitha, and former soldier Layne Morris, who was wounded in the firefight and lost sight in one eye, sued Khadr in a Utah court for damages. In 2015, a Salt Lake judge handed down a $134.2-million (U.S.) default settlement after receiving no reply from Khadr or his lawyers.

The claim cannot be enforced in Canada without legal action here and at the time of the settlement, Morris and Speer’s lawyer, Laura Tanner, said it was “really more of a statement case, I think, than a desire to collect this.”

The government apology ends what has been a legal saga for Khadr in Canada for nearly 15 years. The United Nations and international human rights groups harshly condemned both the U.S. and Canada over the years for not recognizing Khadr’s age during his detention and prosecution before Guatnanamo’s controversial war crimes court.

Khadr’s lawyers took the federal government to court Three times over his constitutional rights, and three times the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of Khadr, writing in an unanimous 2010 decision that the participation of Canadian officials in Khadr’s Guantanamo interrogations “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

The settlement will be split between Khadr and his lawyers, who have fought for the Toronto-born former detainee for years, with little compensation for their work. Edney and his wife Patricia have supported Khadr since his release on bail two years ago.

Khadr, now 30, recently moved into his own apartment in Edmonton and hopes to attend classes in the fall to become a nurse.

1 comment:

  1. i'd say something, but i'm canadian so it's against the law for me to have an opinion