GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — All of Canadian captive Omar Khadr's confessions to U.S. military interrogators can be used at the accused teen terrorist's trial, including one that followed a tawdry tale of rape, a war court judge ruled Monday to set the stage for the first full war crimes tribunal of the Obama administration.
Khadr's lawyers claimed that Guantanamo's youngest and last Western prisoner was tortured into confessing soon after his capture at age 15 following a firefight in Afghanistan when he was shot twice through the chest.
Army Col. Patrick Parrish, the judge, disagreed.
Jury selection was slated to start Tuesday morning in the hilltop tribunal chamber with at least five U.S. military officers hearing the case of the son of an alleged al Qaida financier. Khadr has been charged with throwing a grenade that killed U.S. Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, 28.
Prosecutors seek life imprisonment, not the death penalty, in consideration of his age.
Khadr family attorney Dennis Edney said Khadr called his participation in the proceedings "an embarrassment." The captive, now 23 years old, sat through Monday's session studying a World Cup soccer magazine.
Then Khadr's lawyer sought out Canadian reporters to declare the judge's ruling "a disgrace" that signals "it's OK to threaten a 15-year-old with rape" to get a confession.
At the heart of the issue was pretrial testimony May 6 by Khadr's first interrogator, former Army Sgt. Joshua Claus, that he had scared the Canadian into confessing by conjuring up a rape tale of an Afghan kid who didn't cooperate, was sent to an American prison to be raped and killed. Claus has been convicted at a court martial of abusing detainees in Afghanistan but Khadr wasn't among them.
Monday marked the busiest and most ambitious war court session of the Obama era with two jury pools in action on the remote Navy base in southeast Cuba.
And it was fraught with challenges.
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