Omar Khadr was the only enemy survivor of a bloody firefight at a compound in Afghanistan. Eight lonely years later, the list of “onlys” has only grown longer.
A product of a fanatical Canadian family that put a rifle in his hand and a hateful ideology in his head, he is the only Westerner who hasn’t been repatriated from Guantanamo Bay and the youngest detainee there. He is the only prisoner prosecuted for killing an American soldier in Afghanistan, although more than 1,000 have been killed in combat during nine years of war. He is the only former child soldier to be subjected to a war-crimes tribunal by a western country since Nuremberg.
His guilty plea on Monday to a slew of terrorism charges, as part of a complex plea agreement before a U.S. military commission, will only compound his unique status.
He could end up spending eight more years behind bars, seven of them in Canada. If that’s the outcome of this week’s proceedings, it means Khadr will have been jailed longer than the number of years he had been alive (15) when he apparently tossed a grenade that killed one and blinded another U.S. soldier.
While he is no angel, Khadr had previously denied responsibility, and evidence against him was not iron-clad. It is a betrayal of the principles of justice that after eight years of detention, the facts of this case have yet to be tested in a courtroom, not to mention the premise that this was a war crime as opposed to a nasty combat event.
In pleading guilty, Khadr may simply be avoiding a life sentence, looking after his own best interests because the process does not.
From the Halifax Chronicle Herald