War court resumes, readies Canadian's trial

The Miami HeraldAugust 12, 2008 

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — With one conviction by military jury on the books, the war court gavels back into session Wednesday with pre-trial hearings in the case of the next war-on-terror captive up for trial — Canadian Omar Khadr.

Khadr, 21, is accused of the grenade killing of a U.S. Special Forces soldier in a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002. He was 15.

This week, his lawyers seek to argue in motions that they be allowed to have an independent psychologist or psychiatrist evaluate him before trial. They enlisted a retired Army brigadier general, psychiatrist Steve Xenakis, to conduct the assessment. But the Pentagon has denied the request.

Khadr's military judge, Army Col. Patrick Parrish, has scheduled the trial for Oct. 8.

Khadr, who was sent to Guantanamo after his 16th birthday, has never seen an independent mental health expert.

In a separate legal motion, Khadr's Pentagon defense lawyers are seeking to have the charges dismissed on grounds a general at the Pentagon exerted unlawful influence over the prosecutor at military commissions.

They are also seeking to revisit a so-called Child Soldier defense.

Defense lawyers say were Khadr to go to trial he would be the first child soldier prosecuted for a war crime in modern times.

Last week, a military jury convicted Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan, 40, of providing material support for terror, acquitted him of an overarching conspiracy charge and then sentenced him to time served plus less than five months.

Also this week, two other judges hear preliminary motions in the case of Mohammed Jawad, accused of throwing a grenade that wounded two U.S. soldiers and their interpreter in a bazaar in Afghanistan, and in the case of Ali Hamza Bahlul, a Yemeni who has fought for years to defend himself at trial.

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