U.S. soldier's widow speaks at Omar Khadr's Guantanamo trial

The Miami HeraldOctober 29, 2010 

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- The Army wife left widowed by teen terrorist Omar Khadr and the Canadian "child soldier'' finally spoke to each other on Thursday, across the war crimes tribunal.

"I'm really, really sorry for the pain I caused your family,'' said Khadr, now 24, towering at six-foot-plus as he stood in the witness stand.

Tabitha Speer, 40, shook her head in rejection. Earlier, she looked him in the eye across the courtroom and declared: ``You'll forever be a murderer in my eyes.'' He had pleaded guilty Monday to hurling the grenade that killed her 28-year-old husband, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer in 2002. Khadr was 15.

And so ended the crucial portion of this week's likely for-the-record sentencing hearing in Guantánamo's most controversial military commission. All that remains are rebuttals, closing arguments and deliberations of a sentence that will only apply if the panel gives him less than an eight-year cap pledged by a senior Pentagon official in a plea agreement.

Will the seven senior U.S. military officers accept a government expert's opinion that Khadr is unrepentant, and will become even more militant as the prayer leader in the company of hardened radical jihadists?

Or will jurors agree that Khadr is seeking salvation from his own victimization after a third of his life in the prison camps and the rest in the thrall of his father, a since slain al Qaeda militant?

Thursday's testimony was meant to let both the killer and the widow tell their stories to guide them.

``The victims,'' said Speer, ``they are my children. Not you. Their father was an honorable man. He was a good man.''

Speer, in a black dress, spoke for more than an hour -- emphasizing the pain of her daughter, Taryn, 11, and emptiness of her son, Tanner, 8, at the loss of their medic father.

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