Gitmo Charges Against Canadian Teenager Dismissed
Omar Khadr is the teenager who was captured and brought to Guantanamo at age 15. (Background here.)
His case came before the military tribunal at Guantanamo today and the Judge dismissed the charges on jurisdictional grounds.
The stunning ruling by Army Col. Peter Brownback came just minutes into Khadr's arraignment, in which he faced charges he committed murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism and spying.
"The charges are dismissed without prejudice," Brownback pronounced as he adjourned the proceeding.
Khadr had been classified as an "enemy combatant" by a military panel years earlier at Guantanamo Bay, but because he was not classified as an "alien unlawful enemy combatant," Brownback said he had no choice but to throw the case out.
The Military Commissions Act, signed by President George W. Bush last year after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the previous war-crimes trial system, says specifically that only those classified as "unlawful" enemy combatants can face war trials here.
Unfortunately, it sounds like all they have to do is reclassify him and refile the charges. That's what "dismissed without prejudice" means.
The real issue is trying a child soldier:
Khadr's attorneys had decried the charges against him, saying he was a child soldier and should be rehabilitated, not imprisoned.
"The U.S. will be the first country in modern history to try an individual who was a child at the time of the alleged war crimes," the attorneys said in a joint statement in April.
The New York Times yesterday had this article on Khadr and the issue of child soldiers.
As Jeanne D'Arc wrote in the now defunct Body and Soul:
Omar Khadr is as much a victim of these people as a member of the family. He's eighteen years old. When he was captured in Afghanistan, he was fifteen -- a child turned into a soldier by parents from hell. And our government's response to this victim of child abuse was to abuse him further.
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