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Omar Khadr can’t rush military court hearing to escape war crimes: U.S. government

Khadr asked a U.S. Court of Appeals to force a military commission into hearing his appeal.

The U.S. government says Omar Khadr’s attempt to force a military court to hear an appeal on his five war crimes charges is inappropriate. 

In an attempt to escape the guilty pleas related to the death of U.S. soldier Christopher Speer while Khadr was an al-Qaeda combatant, he asked a U.S. Court of Appeals to force a military commission into hearing his appeal. 

Initially, Khadr had sought to appeal his guilty pleas with the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review in 2013. He did this only after he left the United States and was let back into Canada as part of his plea agreement, which reduced his sentence to eight years instead of the recommended 40-year imprisonment. His case was eventually put on hold. 

“Khadr waited for years after the convening authority’s action to challenge his guilty plea and appellate waiver. He took no action until after he had pocketed the agreement’s benefits, received his 32-year sentence reduction and transfer to Canada, and was beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. courts,” claimed the U.S. government. 

Since arriving back into Canada, Khadr sued the Canadian government for allegedly violating his rights by handing him over to the Americans. Instead of fighting the lawsuit, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau settled with Khadr outside of court with a $10.5 million payout to the convicted terrorist, calling it the “best option” for Canada.

In March, an Alberta judge ruled that Khadr’s war crimes had expired and that Khadr should be freed from all prior conditions, allowing him to get a Canadian passport and travel internationally. 

Only a month later, Khadr was a special guest on a French-language CBC program, where he claimed his $10.5 million settlement was “for all Canadians,” and discussed his $3 million purchase of a shopping mall.

The U.S. government is pointing to the fact that Khadr had originally waived his right to appeal in his guilty plea and that he now lives freely in Edmonton in its decision to not grant him an expedited hearing. 

While Khadr is attempting to have his crimes wiped clean, the family of Christopher Speer is seeking to have lawyers interrogate Khadr about his prior guilty confessions. The Speers were awarded a $134 million (USD) judgement against Khadr by a Utah civil court in 2015 and are seeking to have the decision enforced in Canada.

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