Plea-bargain talks held in Khadr case, lawyer says – Canadian terrorism suspect held in Guantanamo Bay set to appear for pretrial motions
By Paul Koring
Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Station, Cuba
Preliminary talks have been held to end Omar Khadr’s war-crimes trial with a plea bargain that could lead to his release and repatriation to Canada, but agreement from the Canadian government would be critical to any final deal, Mr. Khadr’s lawyers said.
There have been conversations in recent days and further talks are possible, said Barry Coburn, lead civilian attorney for Mr. Khadr, the only Canadian facing war crimes and terrorism charges under the U.S. government’s revised but still controversial military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay.
However, prosecutors seeking to convict Mr. Khadr on murder and terrorism charges refused to confirm plea-bargain talks. “Mr. Coburn may have greater latitude to talk about that issue,” said U.S. Navy Captain David Iglesias, spokesman for the prosecution. “I absolutely cannot talk about whether or not there are ongoing discussions.”
Mr. Khadr is due to appear Wednesday in the heavily guarded courtroom for pretrial motions. His defence team will seek to have his confessions ruled inadmissible because they were extracted by torture from Mr. Khadr, who was gravely wounded and 15 years old at the time, his lawyers say.
Unlike Britain and Australia, which demanded the return of their citizens held in Guantanamo, successive Canadian governments have rejected calls to bring Mr. Khadr home.
But any plea-bargain deal would necessarily involve Canada, along with Mr. Khadr, the prosecution and the U.S. government.
Mr. Coburn said the defence team hadn’t had direct talks with the Canadian government but added: “It’s not necessarily us who would be approaching Canada.”
Although there have been persistent reports that senior Obama officials – like Bush officials before them – have approached the Canadian government about resolving the Khadr case, Canada has never shown any interest.
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