Human Rights Advocates Slam Judge’s Decision to Admit Confessions

Posted by on Aug 10th, 2010 and filed under FEATURED, Recent Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Khadr_trial_startsJURY selection for the trial of Canadian Omar Khadr begins Tuesday in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Toronto-born man, now 23, was captured as a teenager after a fatal firefight with U.S. special forces in Afghanistan in July 2002. He is accused of throwing a grenade that killed one of the American soldiers involved in the firefight and has spent the last eight years in custody.

His case was dealt a serious blow yesterday when the judge presiding over the military commission trying Khadr, Col. Patrick Parrish, ruled that the confessions Khadr made to police after his capture can be used against him during the trial.

These confessions include an admission that he threw the grenade that killed the U.S. sergeant.

Parrish said he will also allow into evidence video purportedly showing the Canadian making and planting bombs in Afghanistan.

Khadr faces five charges, including murder in violation of the laws of war, in the death of the soldier.

Khadr formally pleaded not guilty to all five charges at a pretrial hearing Monday.

At the same hearing, one of his lawyers argued that one of Khadr’s interrogators had made threats of rape and death and that that should render his client’s confessions as coerced and unreliable.

Parrish rejected the argument. He did not justify his ruling.

Khadr’s Canadian attorney, Dennis Edney, was upset by the judge’s decision but said he was not surprised by it. He wore his expectations literally on his sleeves: “guilty” said one of his cufflinks; “not guilty” said the other.

“We think he’s [Parrish] just a toady,” Edney told the CBC. ” We’ve never won a single ruling. And what we hope to do through trial is speak to the jury. We don’t have to speak to Parrish anymore.”

‘Kangaroo court’

Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire, a retired Canadian general who served with UN forces in Rwanda and is a well-known advocate for the protection of child soldiers, slammed Parrish’s ruling and the trial process.

“What this kangaroo court has done once again is go completely against the international optional protocol of child rights and child protection,” Dallaire said. “That is to say that 15-year-olds can be tried for actions taken in conflict when the whole world, including us, has said that we cannot do that.”

Daphne Eviatar of Human Rights First says that it will be up to the jury to decide whether Khadr’s confessions, made while he was only 15, were spoken freely or under duress.

“They can still decide, ‘Well, given the circumstances, we don’t believe it.’ But they’re going to hear it all,” she told the CBC. “It’s certainly going to be a much longer trial now.

Opening arguments in Khadr’s trial begin Wednesday.

CBC News.  Read more:

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