Thursday, November 08, 2007

Khadr Trial Begins

Defense Claims Exculpatory Evidence Suppressed

From The trial of Omar Khadr began today with his military defense claiming foul play on the part of the prosecution.
The U.S. government has withheld information about a witness who could help clear Canadian Omar Khadr as an "unlawful enemy combatant," Khadr's military defence lawyer at Guantanamo Bay said Thursday.

"It's an eyewitness the government has always known about," Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler told reporters. "This is something that was buried because nobody ever looked."
Khadr — who is the only Canadian held at Guantanamo prison and was 15 at the time of his capture in 2002 — is accused of murder in the death of U.S. medic Sgt. First Class Christopher J. Speer in Afghanistan. He is also charged with spying, conspiracy and supporting terrorism.

Kuebler said U.S. officials never bothered to speak to the witness and the prosecution didn't find out about him until recently.

"The significant fact is that the government made us aware of this at the last minute and wanted to go forward with this thing today … notwithstanding being told repeatedly by the military judge that it was not proper," Kuebler told reporters at the base.

"It shows how anxious they are to get this validated and get it moving."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the real justice system withholding evidence would land the prosecution in a huge mess of trouble, and the lead attorney would be facing disciplinary measures. But this isn't the real justice system, this is a military tribunal set up under the odious, unconstitutional Military Commissions Act. A previous attempt to bring Khadr to trial was denied by the presiding Judge Col. Peter Brownback. (hmm...hope he isn't related) Where was I? .. oh yeah, denied because the prosecution presented Khadr to the court as 'an enemy combatant.' For the court to have jurisdiction he had to be re-designated 'an unlawful enemy combatant' under the MCA.

Odd that they should be splitting such hairs considering the entire MCA is unconstitutional (though how one would determine that with the Supreme Court refusing to rule on any test case is another question.) In point of plain fact, the rights that Khadr should have had under both US and international law have been denied him. This entire process is to legal what _________is to ___________. I'll let you guys come up with an analogy in comments.
The trial is taking place without one of Khadr's Canadian lawyers present. Dennis Edney told CBC News on Thursday that the U.S. defence lawyer, Kuebler, barred him from the proceedings because of his criticism of the process, as well as Kuebler's own preparedness and qualifications.

The defence has not interviewed a single prosecution witness, Edney said, while the prosecution has been preparing for the trial for the past two years.

"We have said the military defence lawyers are not ready for trial," Edney said from Edmonton. "We put that in writing to them time and time again.

"My guess? They don't like to be criticized."
My guess? They're looking for the same kangaroo court result they got in Australian David Hicks' case. IOW, threaten, bully and terrorize the 'suspect' into a guilty plea so they can say, "see - we're making progress in the war on terrorism." It's all an exercise in finding something they can put on FOX "news", after all.

Khadr is exhibiting signs of the same complacent Stockholm syndrome that Hicks showed, so the strategy is apparently working so far.
Khadr, whose family lives in the Toronto area, entered the court in the morning dressed in white prison garb. The colour is an indication of a detainee's "highly compliant" status, the CBC's Alison Smith reported from Guantanamo.
During the morning's proceedings, Khadr appeared co-operative with court authorities and told the presiding judge that he accepted Kuebler as his main defence counsel.
But didn't we just hear that Kuebler was totally unprepared? What grieves me the most is that the Bush-licking Canadian government of Stephen Harper is so silent about this. I really wish the international community would do more to hold this administration responsible for at least the crimes that extend beyond US borders. Tell them they won a free vacation in The Hague, Switzerland or something. They're dumb enough, they might just go for it.

TAGS: , , ,

No comments: