Jury retires to consider sentence for Omar Khadr
The jury at Omar Khadr's war-crimes trial spent more than five hours considering a sentence for the 24-year-old Canadian before breaking for the day.
The prosecution has labelled Khadr a terrorist and murderer, while defence lawyers say the Toronto native was manipulated by al Qaeda.
After receiving sentencing instructions from the judge, the jury of seven U.S. military officers was sequestered to consider Khadr's sentence. In closing arguments delivered Saturday morning, the prosecution said Khadr deserved 25 years in jail.
Prosecutor Jeff Groharing called Khadr, 24, a "terrorist and murderer" whose aim was to kill as many Americans as possible.
"He is not a rock star, he is not a victim," Groharing told the jury.
Groharing said the murder, attempted murder and terrorism-related charges Khadr pleaded guilty to earlier this week "amount to hate crimes in the extreme."
Groharing said Khadr must face severe punishment for the pain and suffering he caused with his actions.
"Regret and remorse should not be used as a tool in this trial. The accused has not expressed genuine remorse," Groharing said.
After the prosecution painted its picture of Khadr as the unrepentant terrorist, defence lawyer Lt.-Col. Jon Jackson said that as a child, his client was used by both a bad father and al Qaeda. Khadr's father was a close associate of Osama bin Laden.
"There is nothing that is going to deter a child with a bad daddy," Jackson said.
"Send him back to Canada."
Just as his trial was scheduled to get underway Monday at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Khadr pleaded guilty to five war-crimes charges. According to an agreed statement of facts read out in court after he entered his plea, Khadr admitted to throwing a grenade during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan that killed U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer. He also admitted to planting improvised explosive devices and receiving weapons training from al Qaeda.
It is believed that the terms of his plea deal call for him to serve no more than eight years in prison. While the jury can recommend a sentence of up to life behind bars, it is expected that Khadr will not serve more time than his deal calls for. If jurors recommend less time than is stipulated in the plea agreement, Khadr will serve the jury sentence.
Groharing told jurors that given the nature of the crimes Khadr has admitted to, a life sentence would be appropriate. However, given Khadr's age and other factors, a 25-year-sentence is fair.
Regardless of his sentence, Khadr's deal allows him to seek transfer to a Canadian prison after he serves one year in U.S. custody.
Presiding judge Col. Patrick Parrish told the jury that the eight years Khadr has already spent in custody, most of it at Guantanamo Bay, can be considered during their deliberations. They have not been told of the eight-year sentence contained in the deal.
With files from The Canadian Press