US military judge rules Khadr confessions admissible at trial

[JURIST] US military judge Army Colonel Patrick Parrish on Monday ruled that confessions by Canadian Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] are admissible evidence in his US military commission trial. Khadr's US military lawyer, Lt.-Colonel Jon Jackson, claimed [motion, PDF] that his statements were illegally obtained through threats of rape and death by interrogators. Prosecutors argued that they did not rely on Khadr's interrogation confessions [Reuters report] and that, according to intelligence agents, Khadr spoke freely [BBC report]. Parrish also ruled that video that US forces found weeks after the battle of Khadr helping al Qaeda operatives make and plant bombs in Afghanistan would be admissible. Also Monday, Khadr formally pleaded not guilty to murder and terrorism charges [JURIST report] against him for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed one US soldier and injured another. Khadr's trial, scheduled to begin on Tuesday [JURIST report] at Guantanamo Bay, is the first contested military commission trial under the Obama administration. If Khadr is found guilty, he could face a life sentence.

On Friday, the US Supreme Court [official website] refused to block the military trial of Khadr, issuing a one-line order denying the petition for a stay [JURIST report] with no noted dissents and offering no explanation of the ruling. Jackson filed a petition [JURIST report] last week asking the Supreme Court either to issue a writ of mandamus [Cornell LII backgrounder] forcing the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] to rule on a similar petition or for the Supreme Court to grant the stay because there was little time before the trial. Last month, the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] allowed Khadr to amend [JURIST report] his 2004 habeas corpus petition but refused to lift the stay on the petition pending the conclusion of his military commission. Also in July, Khadr rejected a plea deal [JURIST report] offered by the US government, which would have resulted in a five-year prison sentence. Khadr's defense lawyers have repeatedly sought his repatriation [JURIST report] to Canada on the basis that the Canadian government's refusal to request repatriation from the US violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text].

 

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