Canadian to serve eight more years in soldier’s death
GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba — A war crimes tribunal yesterday sentenced Canadian captive Omar Khadr to 40 years in prison for charges that included murdering an American soldier in battle, but his plea agreement capped his sentence at eight years.
That means the Toronto native will serve eight more years, in addition to the eight he has spent in detention at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base.
His plea deal calls for him to be sent home to Canada in one year to serve the rest of his sentence there, although “the decision on that is solely up to the Canadian government,” said the judge, Army Col. Patrick Parrish.
Khadr pleaded guilty Oct. 25 to all five charges against him, including conspiring with al-Qaida to commit terrorist acts, making roadside bombs to target U.S. troops in Afghanistan, spying on American military convoys and providing material support for terrorism.
He was 15 years old when captured in Afghanistan in 2002; he is now 24. He is the first person since World War II to be prosecuted in a war crimes tribunal for acts committed as a juvenile.
Now tall and broad-shouldered with a full beard, Khadr wore a gray suit and stood to face the seven military officers of the jury as the verdict was read. He stared straight ahead, then seemed to smile in relief.
Tabitha Speer, widow of the Special Forces soldier whom Khadr admitted killing with a grenade, cheered and raised a fist as the jury’s decision was read in the hilltop courtroom at the Guantanamo Bay base.
Her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, was among more than 1,000 U.S. troops killed in hostilities during the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Khadr is the only person held liable for any of those deaths.
He is the fifth man convicted by the war crimes tribunal established after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 to try foreign captives on terrorism charges.