Khadr prosecution, defense spar over military commission trial delays

[JURIST] Frustrations over the delay of the US military commission trial of Canadian Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] continued Friday, with prosecutors urging US military judge Col. Peter Brownback to set a trial date and Khadr's defense team blaming the prosecution for delays, saying that they have blocked access to evidence that could exonerate Khadr. Khadr's trial was originally scheduled to begin May 5, but last month Brownback postponed the trial [JURIST report] and instead scheduled a May 8 hearing in order to hear arguments on a number of evidence issues that must be reconciled before the trial can begin. Military prosecutors said Friday that Khadr's defense has been appealing the case to the media and intentionally stalling in hopes that a "political solution" for the detainee will materialize while the victims' families continue to suffer as a result of the delays. The defense Friday said that the trial system in place at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] is inherently unjust, because no detainee could obtain an acquittal in light of the government's unlimited resources and unrestricted access to classified documents integral to the trials.

Khadr, now 21, faces life imprisonment after allegedly throwing a grenade that killed US Sgt. Christopher Speer and wounded another while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2002. He was charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] in April 2007 with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism, as well as spying. Among evidence the defense insists could exonerate Khadr is new alleged reports from witnesses that could prove Speer was killed accidentally by "friendly fire" [AP report]. The New York Times has more. AFP has additional coverage.

 

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