GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — The military was evacuating Omar Khadr's lone defense attorney from this remote Navy base for medical treatment on U.S. soil Friday, delaying for at least a month the first full war crimes trial of the Obama administration.
Army Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, 39, collapsed in the tribunal chamber hours after opening statements Thursday. He had undergone gall bladder surgery six weeks ago.
The Pentagon-appointed defender was questioning a retired Special Forces soldier who testified that he shot Khadr, then 15, twice in the back while raiding a suspected al Qaeda compound on July 27, 2002.
Friday morning, guards took Khadr, 23, from the prison camps to the war court compound called Camp Justice to hear the news.
"Omar Khadr has one attorney," deputy chief defense counsel Bryan Broyles told reporters in an old hangar below the courtroom, from which Jackson was taken by stretcher to a base ambulance. "If the court has to wait for Lt. Col. Jackson, the court will have to wait for Lt. Col. Jackson."
The trial's military judge, Army Col. Patrick Parrish, agreed in an early morning meeting in his chambers not to gavel the trial back into session, said Broyles.
The judge also declared a 30-day delay without ever bringing the jury back into court.
No decision had been made on what to do about the seven-member jury of senior U.S. military officers, which was hearing the case in its first day Thursday. One of the most senior members is a Marine colonel with a purple heart.
Former West Point law instructor Gary Solis, a retired Marine judge, said it is not unusual to suspend a military trial for a long weekend with instructions to a jury to not read media coverage. A 30-day delay that might send jurors back to bases around the world "is very unusual," he said.