The war crimes trial of Canadian Omar Khadr is slated to resume in Guantanamo Bay in mid-October, more than two months after it was abruptly halted because of an ailing lawyer.
Col. Patrick Parrish, the army judge presiding over the case, on Tuesday set Oct. 18 for the day-old trial to resume.
“This afternoon, Judge Parrish held a pre-trial meeting with the defence and prosecution teams,” said Pentagon spokeswoman, Maj. Tanya Bradsher.
“The date (was) agreed upon by all parties.”
The hearings ended on a dramatic note on Aug. 12, when Khadr’s sole defence lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, collapsed in the courtroom resulting from a gall-bladder attack and was rushed to hospital.
The following day, Parrish declared a minimal 30-day hiatus in proceedings to allow Jackson time to recover.
Jurors were informed the delay was the result of a medical situation, and were sent home with instructions against consuming any media reports on the trial or discussing it with anyone.
The Toronto-born Khadr, 23, is charged with killing American special forces soldier Sgt. Chris Speer in Afghanistan in July 2002 when he was 15 years old.
Washington called the death “murder in violation of the law of war” by branding Khadr an “unprivileged belligerent” — essentially because he was not wearing a uniform or part of a state-sanctioned army.
The U.S. has used the designation to put Khadr beyond the internationally mandated protections normally afforded to prisoners of war, even though he was captured in the rubble of an Afghan compound following a four-hour firefight in which Speer was killed.
He also faces four other lesser charges, including attempted murder and material support for terrorism, a crime some argue has never existed in international law.
His contested military commission trial is the first under U.S. President Barack Obama and has been severely criticized by human and legal-rights groups.
If the October date holds, it means the hearing will be restarting more than two full months after the stoppage.
It was not immediately clear why the extra time was needed, although the logistics of assembling prosecution and defence teams along with witnesses and getting them to Guantanamo Bay is daunting.