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Guantanamo trial to go ahead
US supreme court refuses application for trial of Canadian Omar Khadr to be delayed.
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2010 05:28 GMT
Khadr was 15 years old when arrested in Afghanistan for allegedly attacking US troops [Al Jazeera] 

The US supreme court has refused to delay the military trial of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen held at Guantanamo Bay. 

Lawyers for Khadr had sought to have the trial, scheduled for next week, put on hold while they challenged the constitutionality of the military tribunals at the US army base in Cuba.

But the US supreme court said on Friday that it had decided to deny the request.

"The application for stay presented to the chief justice and by him referred to the court is denied," the court said in a one-line brief that provided no explanation for the decision.

Lieutenant Colonel Jon Jackson, Khadr's military lawyer, had sought a supreme court order to force a lower court to examine the constitutionality of the military tribunal set to try the 23-year-old.

Alternatively, Jackson argued, the high court could issue its own decision on the constitutionality.

On Wednesday, a US appeals court also ruled against Khadr, saying he could challenge the constitutionality of the military commission system in an appeal later if he is convicted.

Murder charges

US forces captured Khadr in Afghanistan in July 2002, when he was just 15 years old.

He is accused of killing a US soldier after throwing a grenade at the end of a four-hour US bombardment of an al-Qaeda compound in the eastern Afghan city of Khost.

Khadr faces charges that include conspiring to commit terrorism and murder.

"I have been used too many times when I was a child, and that is why I am here, taking blame and paying for things I did not have a choice in doing..."

Omar Khadr

Canada, his birth country, has declined to seek his release from Guantanamo, saying the judicial process at the facility should be seen through.

After sacking his US defence lawyers and refusing a plea deal, the complicated court case it set to begin on August 10. 

Khadr told prosecutors: "I have been used too many times when I was a child, and that is why I am here, taking blame and paying for things I did not have a choice in doing but was told to do by elders".

The charges against him were first filed in 2005 and have been dropped and reinstated several times amid legal challenges and revisions to the Guantanamo trials.

Defence lawyers say that during at least 142 interrogations in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, Khadr was beaten, doused in freezing water, spat on, chained in painful positions, forced to urinate on himself, terrorised by barking dogs, subjected to flashing lights and sleep deprivation and threatened with rape.

Prosecutors contend Khadr was treated humanely and has fabricated the abuse allegations.

Toronto born Khadr is the youngest of the 176 prisoners still held at the US military prison in Cuba. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Source:
Agencies
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