Canadian juvenile boycotts Guantanamo trial

From BBC Online

A Canadian teenager accused of killing a US soldier in Afghanistan has told a Guantanamo Bay tribunal he will boycott his trial, claiming unfair treatment. Omar Khadar told a pre-trial hearing he had been kept in solitary confinement and said he would not participate until he was “treated humanely and fair”.

The 19-year-old’s defence lawyer argued the military trial rules were unclear and not based on any legal framework.

Mr Khadr is one of 10 Guantanamo detainees charged with war crimes.

“I am boycotting these procedures until I am treated humanely and fairly,” Mr Khadr said, adding he had been held in solitary confinement since 30 March.

An angry exchange followed between his defence lawyer, Lt Col Colby Vokey, and the military officer presiding over the tribunal. He complained that his client was being treated unfairly and that the conditions at the prison and the tribunal’s procedures undermined the defence team’s ability to carry out its work.

Lt Col Vokey said just as he was trying to prepare his client’s case, “they move him to solitary confinement for no apparent reason whatsoever”.

‘Routine practice’

Presiding officer Col Robert Chester said the matter of Mr Khadr’s solitary confinement would be addressed later in the week.

A spokesman for the prison camp said it was routine practice for those in a pre-trial hearing status to be moved into the maximum-security section of the prison. Navy Cmdr Robert Durand said inmates live in individual cells but can still communicate with one another.

Mr Khadr was 15 when he was captured and his lawyers argue that trying him for crimes allegedly committed as a juvenile violates international law. Mr Khadr would face life in prison if convicted.

Ten of the 490 Guantanamo detainees have been charged with war crimes. Mr Khadr is one of four scheduled for pre-trial hearings this week. The Supreme Court heard a challenge to the legitimacy of the tribunals last month and is expected to rule by July.