Khadr evidence ‘circumstantial,’ says U.S. general
(The Canadian Press) TORONTO — The American military lawyer who recommended a war-crimes trial for Omar Khadr believes there is a “circumstantial” case to be made against the young Canadian terror suspect.
Khadr was 15 when U.S. authorities say he killed an American medic with a grenade during a firefight in eastern Afghanistan in July 2002. The Toronto-born man is charged with murder, attempted murder, spying, conspiracy and material support for terrorism.
“I think it’s fair to say that no person saw him actually throw the grenade,” retired general John Altenburg told CBS’ 60 Minutes in an interview aired Sunday.
Altenburg had counselled the U.S. military to put Khadr on trial for war crimes because he says “there is circumstantial evidence that would indicate he was the one who threw the grenade.”
But Altenburg added that there was evidence that he was fighting with people from al-Qaida. That evidence includes images caught on a videotape found in the rubble after Khadr was captured.
CBS says a man seen in the video is teaching the other men how to attach detonation wires to landmines. Also seen on the tape is a young man who appears to be Khadr, helping put together a firing device.
Earlier this month a judge in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where Khadr is being held, postponed a decision on whether he is subject to a war-crimes tribunal.
The judge recessed the pretrial hearing without addressing whether Khadr is an “unlawful enemy combatant.” That’s a critical designation required by the U.S. Congress if the trial is ever to proceed.
During the hearing, Khadr’s defence team revealed that it had learned about a secret witness who could help clear Khadr.
The team said the unnamed person was in Afghanistan when Khadr allegedly threw the grenade that killed the soldier.
Meanwhile, Khadr’s mother told 60 Minutes she was praying for his return home.
“I don’t want him to be brought back in a plastic bag,” Maha Khadr said. “Terrifies me very much.”
The defence is due to present new motions Dec. 7 and Jan. 11.
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