Khadr’s lawyers want names of U.S. interrogators

Lawyers for Omar Khadr are asking a U.S. military judge for the names of interrogators who questioned the Canadian citizen in Afghanistan in an attempt to prove he was tortured.

Khadr’s lawyers were to appear at a pretrial hearing Thursday for the 21-year-old, who has been held at the Guantanamo Bay facility since his 2002 capture during a battle in Afghanistan.

He is accused of murder in the death of American medic Sgt. First Class Christopher J. Speer. Khadr is also charged with spying, conspiracy and supporting terrorism.

During questioning at a U.S.-run detention centre at the Bagram air base north of Kabul after his capture, Khadr was quoted as saying he wanted to kill a lot of American soldiers. According to the statement, Khadr said the Taliban were offering a $1,500 bounty for each U.S. soldier.

Court documents later revealed interrogators at the air base used attack dogs and hung prisoners by their wrists.

Khadr’s lawyers want the chance to cross-examine the interrogators during the military tribunal. If it is proven Khadr’s statement was extracted by torture, his lawyers argue it should be wiped from the record.

His trial, due to start on May 5, would likely be delayed until the summer if the judge grants Khadr’s lawyers’ request.

Khadr’s lawyers also argue their client should be freed because trying him for crimes he allegedly committed as a minor contravenes international law. He was 15 when he was captured.

The U.S. and Canada are signatories to a United Nations protocol that states fighters under age 18 are to be considered as child soldiers. Under those international obligations, child fighters must be released and helped to reintegrate into society.

Khadr’s U.S. military lawyer, Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, alleges Khadr has been threatened with rendition to places where he would be raped. Kuebler also said he believes allegations Khadr has been beaten, has had dogs turned on him and is nearly blind. Earlier reports said Khadr is blind in one eye, with deteriorating sight in his other eye.

Last month, a trio of opposition MPs called for Ottawa to intervene in the case.

About 275 men are being held at the military base on suspicion they are linked to al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Thirteen of the prisoners have been charged.

The heavily criticized military tribunal system has yet to complete a trial.

Original rules allowed the military to exclude the defendant from his own trial, permitted statements made under torture, and forbade appeal to an independent court, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the system in 2006 and a revised procedure has included some additional rights.

CBC News
With files from the Associated Press