Judge Rules Omar Khadr Was Not Abused Despite Rape & Death Threats

In a just-released opinion made available by the U.S. military commissions, Judge Patrick Parrish sets out his reasons for refusing to suppress alleged “confessions” made by then 15-year-old Omar Khadr to interrogators at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan and later, at Guantanamo Bay.

During pretrial hearings, Khadr’s lead interrogator at Bagram admitted in court that, in addition to yelling, cursing and throwing furniture during interrogations, he had told Khadr a fictitious story about another Afghan teenager captured by U.S. forces who was gang-raped by “big black guys” in prison and likely killed by them, all because he didn’t cooperate with interrogators.  This “Interrogator #1” — who was later court-martialled for abusing other prisoners — interviewed Omar Khadr about 25 times. Khadr’s lawyers made a motion to suppress Khadr’s statements on the grounds that they were elicited by torture and abuse.

Despite interrogator #1’s testimony, the military commission judge in his opinion concludes that “under the totality of the circumstances, the statements offered against the accused are reliable, possess sufficient probative value, were made voluntarily, are not the product of torture or mistreatment, and whose admission is in the interest of justice.”

Although Judge Parrish issued his ruling in court earlier this month, he has not explained his reasoning until now.

Khadr’s statements are the only direct evidence the government has that the teenager threw a grenade which killed a U.S. soldier after U.S. forces stormed the compound he was staying in with his father’s friends in 2002. None of the government’s witnesses actually saw who threw the grenade, and there was at least one other man, heavily armed, still alive inside the compound at the time.

Now 23 years old, Omar has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay prison camp for the last eight years — more than one-third of his life. He now insists that he is not guilty.

The trial of Omar Khadr is the first trial by a Western nation of a child soldier for alleged war crimes since World War II.  It is expected to resume in September.

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Published on August 21, 2010

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