On eve of Khadr trial, no plea deal announced
Omar Khadr's lawyer has denied the existence of a plea deal in the controversial case, less than a day before his client's long-delayed war crimes trial is set to begin at Guantanamo Bay.
Leading up to Monday's trial, there have been several reports that Khadr -- a Canadian-born detainee who has spent eight years at Gitmo -- would plead guilty to killing a U.S. soldier on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2002.
In return, he would serve eight more years in jail. There is word that Khadr could spend at least part of his sentence in Canada.
But lawyer Dennis Edney told reporters in Guantanamo Bay that no such deal was in place.
"All I can tell you is there's a trial and there's no deal in place as of this particular moment," he said.
However, such a denial could simply be legal posturing, said CTV's Paul Workman, reporting from Guantanamo Bay Sunday.
"We understand that there will be a meeting this afternoon with the judge in the case," he said, adding that the defence and the prosecution "may be able to finalize a plea bargaining deal of some kind."
Workman noted that any talk of a deal will be avoided before the court date.
"Nobody seems to want to jinx the idea that there might be a plea bargain in this case, and that Omar Khadr might at some point be returned to Canada to serve some of his sentence there."
Khadr attorney Nathan Whitling hinted as much, saying that if any deal is struck, it likely would not be announced until Monday.
Workman said that reporters at the military base were given a tour of the prison, where Khadr was spotted wearing new sunglasses.
Khadr, who has poor eyesight, was given the glasses by the Canadian government, Khadr's lawyer told Workman.
"(The lawyer) said, ‘That's really the only thing the Canadian government has ever done for Omar Khadr,'" Workman said, adding that Khadr's lawyer has been highly critical of Ottawa's response to the long-running legal ordeal.
Khadr, who has been tortured while in custody, has been charged for five war crimes.
On Thursday, Canadian officials confirmed that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton phoned Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon to talk about the Khadr case.
Reportedly, Clinton called Cannon to press the Conservative government into repatriating the Toronto-born Khadr, who has been in prison since the age of 15 and has been called the last-known Western detainee at Guantanamo Bay.
Still, the Conservatives have long refused to bring Khadr back to Canada, despite a ruling from the Supreme Court which stated that his rights had been violated over the past eight years.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his party have long held the same position on the Khadr file; namely, the U.S. justice system must first deal with Khadr before Canada can intervene.
Khadr's trial initially began in August but was halted because a defence lawyer became ill.
With a report from The Canadian Press