Judge reserves decision on whether Omar Khadr should be moved to provincial prison
Published Monday, September 23, 2013 5:57AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, September 23, 2013 9:57PM EDT
An Edmonton judge has reserved his decision on whether former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr should be transferred from a federal maximum security prison to a provincial facility.
Justice John Rooke said Monday he will issue his decision “at a later time,” not giving a specific timeframe.
Khadr smiled and nodded at his supporters during the proceeding, which was his first public appearance in more than a decade.
He sported a white polo shirt and a neatly trimmed beard, CTV’s Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks reported.
Khadr is currently serving his sentence at the federal maximum-security Edmonton Institution, but his lawyer is arguing that the 27-year-old should be treated as a young offender and moved to a provincial jail.
“If he remains in a federal penitentiary, where he doesn’t get any programs, where he spends most of his life locked away, where his life was threatened in Millhaven, he’ll never get out,” Khadr’s lawyer Dennis Edney told reporters outside the Edmonton court on Monday.
Toronto-born Khadr was 15 years old when he was captured by U.S. soldiers after a firefight in Afghanistan. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to five war crimes, including throwing a grenade that killed an American soldier. He was sentenced to eight years in prison and was transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Canada last fall.
After being incarcerated at Ontario’s maximum security Millhaven Institution, Khadr was moved to the Edmonton Institution in May. His lawyer then filed an application to move Khadr to another facility.
In addition to seeking Khadr’s transfer to a provincial jail, Edney is asking the court to consider his client a youth because he was a teen when he was captured in Afghanistan.
The Crown is arguing against Khadr’s transfer, saying his incarceration in Canada follows the rules of the International Transfer of Offenders Act.
Rooke said Monday that the U.S. military did not specify whether Khadr was a youth or adult offender when it handed down the eight-year sentence.
The federal government has strongly opposed Khadr’s move to a provincial jail, saying he has committed “heinous acts” and deserves to be in a maximum security prison.
"This is an individual who, as you know, pled guilty to very serious crimes including murder,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in Ottawa Monday, “and it is very important that we continue to vigorously defend against any attempts, in court, to lessen his punishment for these heinous acts."
Edney said the government is not allowing Khadr to “move on.”
“The critical comments by our government interfere with this young man, who’s been in prison since 15,” he said.
CTV National News' Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks is in the courtroom. Follow her live updates of the proceedings here: