U.S. Court Ruling Adds Ammo to Omar Khadr Appeal of War Crimes Convictions

By Perkel, Colin | The Canadian Press, June 12, 2015 | Go to article overview

U.S. Court Ruling Adds Ammo to Omar Khadr Appeal of War Crimes Convictions


Perkel, Colin, The Canadian Press


U.S. court ruling adds ammo to Omar Khadr

--

TORONTO - An American court decision in the case of an alleged al-Qaida recruiter Friday has cast further doubt on the war crimes convictions of Canada's Omar Khadr.

In its split ruling, the appeals court set aside the military commission conviction of Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, a Guantanamo Bay detainee who did media relations for terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

In essence, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the conspiracy case against al-Bahlul was legally flawed because conspiracy is not a war crime -- similar to arguments Khadr has made. The commission only had jurisdiction to try internationally recognized war crimes, the court said.

Khadr's Pentagon-appointed lawyer was not immediately available to comment, but one of his Canadian lawyers said the decision undermines Khadr's conviction and his appeal should now be allowed.

"By implication, (the ruling) pretty much seals the deal with respect to Omar's appeal," Nate Whitling said from Edmonton.

"This case clearly confirms that all five of Khadr's convictions are invalid and must inevitably be overturned."

The Toronto-born Khadr was convicted of five war crimes in October 2010 after he pleaded guilty before a widely condemned military commission to offences he was accused of committing as a 15-year-old in Afghanistan in 2002.

He is appealing the conviction on the grounds that the commission had no jurisdiction to try him because the offences with which he was charged were not war crimes at the time. However, the commission appeals court has refused to hear the case pending the outcome of the al-Bahlul challenge. …

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