NEW Conservative Leader Scheer: Omar Khadr is No Victim

Michele Moreno
July 6, 2017

Canada is set to apologize and award millions of dollars of compensation to a former Guantanamo detainee who was captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15 and pleaded guilty to killing a USA soldier, reports said on Tuesday.

Toronto-born Omar Khadr-who was captured by the USA military in 2002 when he was just a teenager and held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba-will receive an apology and reportedly $10.5 million ($8 million USD) from the Canadian government for failing to protect him from abuse while he was detained for more than a decade. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deal publicly before the announcement.

Khadr's lawyers met the Department of Justice attorneys behind closed doors last month to reach the deal, the report said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sergeant Layne Morris, who was severely wounded and blinded in one eye during the firefight that left Speer dead, told CNN: "I'm very familiar with the Khadr family".

In 2002, US forces captured Khadr, whose father had ties to al-Qaida and had brought the boy to Afghanistan where he was being trained to make bombs. He was accused of throwing the grenade that killed Delta Force Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, though those charges were never proven.

August 9, 2010: Khadr pleads not guilty to five war crimes charges, including murder.

The Toronto-born Khadr, 30, pleaded guilty to five war crimes before a much maligned military commission in 2010.

The apology and compensation is similar to the $10.5-million that Ottawa gave Syrian-born Canadian Maher Arar after a 2006 judicial inquiry found Canadian officials had passed on information about him to US national-security authorities, leading to his torture and imprisonment in Syria. After being detained and interrogated at a US prison in Bagram, Afghanistan, for three months, Khadr was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where he remained for 10 years. A mention of the Khadr name brings strong emotions from both sides - his supporters, who say he is not to blame, and those who believe that he is, in effect, getting away with murder.

Omar Khadr remained for a decade in Guantánamo before returning to Canada in 2012 to serve the remainder of his sentence there. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2010 that evidence had been obtained from Khadr using oppressive methods.

His lawyers noted that when he was younger, his family had lived with Osama bin Laden but claimed he was pushed into war by his father.

In 2002, USA special forces captured Khadr after a firefight with al-Qaida forces in southeast Afganistan. A USA judge granted $134.2 million in damages in 2015, but the plaintiffs acknowledged then that there was little chance they would collect any of the money from Khadr because he lives in Canada. He had said he rejects violence and wants a fresh start to finish his education and work in health care. With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in power, the government has changed its tune - but the money the federal government is giving Khadr will do nothing to stop the debate over his fate. He now lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

Other reports by Insurance News

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