Judge orders delay in Guantanamo trial of Canadian Omar Khadr

Miami HeraldSeptember 11, 2008 

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- Canadian captive Omar Khadr's terror trial won't go forward as scheduled on Oct. 8, a military judge said Thursday. He did not set a new trial date.

Army Col. Patrick Parrish disclosed the delay in pretrial hearings while attorneys at the war court argued over what evidence would be available to the defense at trial.

At issue, in part, is whether the judge will order the government to fund and authorize independent mental health experts working for the defense to meet with Khadr at the prison camps.

A military panel, including an Army psychiatrist, certified Khadr competent to stand trial. But Khadr refused to cooperate with the team, in part because they were American military officers.

Khadr, who turns 22 next week, is accused of throwing a grenade in a July 2002 firefight in Khost, Afghanistan, that killed a U.S. commando while American forces were assaulting a suspected al Qaeda compound. Conviction could carry a life sentence.

Khadr was 15 at the time and claims he was treated brutally in U.S. custody. His lawyers have also asked that he be given different treatment as a ''child soldier,'' a designation the Pentagon has so far spurned.

Parrish, who had initially set the Oct. 8 trial date, appeared sympathetic to a defense request to get mental health experts to help evaluate the detainee.

The delay means that Khadr is unlikely to go to trial before November.

Now, according to the war court calendar, the next Guantánamo captive up for trial is Ali Hamza al Bahlul, 39.

Bahlul, a Yemeni, is accused of supporting terror as Osama bin Laden's media secretary and by producing al Qaeda "propaganda products.''

Read the complete story at the miamiherald.com

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