By Kenneth J. Theisen
On Monday, July 12th Omar Khadr defiantly rejected the kangaroo proceedings taking place against him at Guantanamo Bay. Omar refused a U.S. offered plea bargain and fired his U.S. military defense team. He denounced the military tribunal as a sham.
Omar, who is now 23 and a Canadian citizen, is an early prisoner of the U.S. war of terror. He was captured in July of 2002 in Afghanistan when he was only 15. He has been held at Gitmo for eight years. Like many prisoners of the U.S. he has been subjected to torture and abuse and denied fundamental human and legal rights.
But he has not been broken as Monday’s defiance shows. According to Omar’s Canadian attorney, Dennis Edney, the plea deal he turned down would have required Omar to falsely admit he had committed war crimes and then he would have to serve five years of a 30-year sentence in Guantanamo. Edney stated, "Mr Khadr could not admit to something he did not do. He did not kill anybody.”
U.S. prosecutors contend that Omar killed a US soldier with a grenade. He was the sole survivor of a four-hour U.S. bombardment. Omar told the military commission trying him that, “I will not take any of the offers because it will give the U.S. government an excuse for torturing me and abusing me when I was a child. I will not willingly let the U.S. government use me to fulfill its goal. I have been used too many times when I was a child, and that is why I am here, taking blame and paying for things I did not have a choice in doing but was told to do by elders. It's going to be the same thing with lawyers or without lawyers. It is going to be life sentence."
Since he rejected the deal a new hearing will take place on August 9 for Omar, and the kangaroo trial is to start at Gitmo on August 10. The presiding judge told Omar he must be present in court to represent himself on August 9. He then defiantly told the judge, "I might be present, but I will not be participating." The judge then ordered the American military defense lawyer to remain on the case against Omar's wishes. Military tribunal rules at Gitmo require that Canadian lawyers cannot represent Omar without U.S. attorneys also being on the legal team.
This is just one of the rules of the tribunals meant to guarantee convictions in these so-called “terrorism” cases. The entire system is rigged in favor of the prosecution and due process is virtually ignored in these kangaroo proceedings. Despite Obama’s promises to close Gitmo, the hellhole there still incarcerates prisoners of the U.S. war of terror and now it is being used to railroad the prisoners into further incarceration. The entire operation of Gitmo was a crime under the Bush regime and it remains so under Obama.