Thursday, January 22, 2009

MacKay: Canada may repatriate Khadr

Actually the article shows that the Conservative govt. is sticking to its own position that as long as their is a US justice process in place they will let things take their course. The suspension of
the tribunals does not seem to make any difference. Harper has never criticised the tribunals or tried to repatriate Khadr thus making Canada odd man out since every other western country has intervened on behalf of their accused citizens. But Harper was a great admirer of Bush and even Obama's rejection of them has not changed his mind about Khadr. However, his hand may perhaps be forced if the US requests Canada to take Khadr off their hands. This may not happen however as there may be pressure to try in some form someone accused of killing an American serviceperson. This is probably what Harper hopes.
MacKay should know that Arar was in Canada when he was allegedly seen by Khadr in an Afghan training camp. MacKay is completely unprincipled.

Canada may repatriate Khadr: MacKay

By Steven Edwards in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Mike Blanchfield in Ottawa, Canwest News ServiceJanuary 21, 2009

Canada may have to reassess its decision not to repatriate accused terrorist Omar Khadr, now that U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered a 120-day pause in legal proceedings at the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday.
"Canada, Mr. Khadr's counsel, and everyone involved in these cases will be reassessing their positions," MacKay said in comments that contrasted with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's longtime stance that the Canadian-born Khadr will not be repatriated as long as he faces serious charges in the United States.
While MacKay made clear that the government's position has not changed, his comments mark the first time the Conservatives have budged at all on the issue.
Harper's chief spokesman, Kory Teneycke, reaffirmed the government's position Wednesday, saying, "We'll simply wait and see what comes forward from the United States."
He refused to "get into hypotheticals around different scenarios," including the developments south of the border.
Hours after taking the oath of the presidency, Obama ordered a 120-day break in the cases against Khadr and five other accused 9/11 conspirators.
"The charges that Mr. Khadr has been facing are very serious charges," MacKay said. "The process has now been delayed as a result of the president's statements and, clearly, when you have a process and legal charges, this is something we have to adhere to."
Khadr is the only remaining westerner at the prison. Other countries such as Britain and Australia have repatriated their nationals from Guantanamo. Unlike the detained nationals of those countries, Khadr faces war-crime charges in the fatal wounding of a U.S. serviceman during the July 2002 firefight in Afghanistan that preceded his capture.
Amnesty International called Obama's suspension of the legal proceedings there an "encouraging step" that would lead to the closure of the prison and "move away from the unlawful practices of the past."
Obama is ready to issue orders on Thursday to close Guantanamo prison, pending a review of how to deal with the remaining detainees, Reuters reported.
"The detention facilities at Guantanamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order," Reuters quoted the draft of the order as saying.
Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, Khadr's lead Pentagon-appointed defence lawyer, dismissed as a "technicality" the fact that the pause does not negate the five war-crimes charges Khadr still faces.
"To the extent that Prime Minister Harper has hidden behind the excuse of an ongoing legal process — that is simply not the case, as of today," Kuebler said.
Kuebler said he met with Khadr shortly after the delay was granted.
"He's anxious. He's nervous. He doesn't quite know what's going to happen," he said. "He's hopeful, as we are, that this is finally going to create the conditions under which the Canadian government can do the responsible thing: begin the process of negotiating with the U.S. government and with us about some sort of arrangement that will bring Omar back to Canada. . . . The practical effect of today's ruling is to pronounce this military commission process dead."
Obama's pause order, issued late Tuesday and applied through court motions Wednesday, represented a clear break with the approach the Bush administration took towards dealing with the international terror threat.
Judge Patrick Parrish, the army colonel presiding in the Khadr case, quickly ruled in favour of the suspension Obama sought, so that his administration could review the files of detainees not slated for release at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.
A similar delay in the proceedings against Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-described 9/11 mastermind, and four other accused co-conspirators, was also granted.
More than 240 terror suspects remain detained at Guantanamo out of more than 770 who have passed through. Twenty-one are currently charged, while about 50 have been cleared for release when countries are found to accept them.
During his campaign for the presidency, Obama had criticized the commissions, created by President George W. Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as falling short of internationally accepted standards of fairness — and said traditional U.S. military and civilian courts are capable of handling terrorism prosecutions.
Eric Holder, Obama's nominee for attorney general, said in recent confirmation-hearing testimony that a revised version of the military commissions could be retained if due process is assured.
Kuebler conceded the Obama administration could resume prosecution in at least some of the accusations against Khadr.
"If Omar were to be prosecuted in the United States, it would almost certainly be in a civilian court. Even if it were a military commission or military tribunal, it would be a different tribunal that hasn't been constructed yet under charges that haven't been laid yet."
Irate relatives of 9/11 victims said the attack's accused plotters are "laughing at America" over Obama's decision.
Don Arias, whose brother Adam died in the collapse of Tower 2 of the World Trade Center, led a group of victims' families attending this week's war-crimes hearings in Guantanamo Bay who accused Obama of marching to the step of such groups as the American Civil Liberties Union.
"In his first official act as commander-in-chief, Mr. Obama has offered up the lives of almost 3,000 Americans on the ACLU's altar of political correctness," he said against the backdrop of the state-of-the-art courtroom where the 9/11 accused have been appearing.
"President Obama, the United States of America is your house," Adam's sister, Lorraine Believeau, said. "You've had planes driven through your kitchen and your living room. And many people lie dead. . . . We are at war. It's not a traffic ticket."
"These men are standing in there, saying they are proud of what they did on 9/11. They want to confess to everything they did on 9/11. I don't see the injustice," said Jim Riches, retired New York Fire Department deputy chief, who lost his son, Jim Jr., also a firefighter, on 9/11.
"They're laughing. They are making a travesty of the American justice system."
MacKay also weighed in on the surprising turn at Khadr's hearing earlier in the week, when an FBI agent testified that Khadr told him he saw someone who "looked similar" to Maher Arar at an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.
The evidence was called into serious question under cross-examination when it emerged that one of the alleged Arar sightings in Afghanistan took place in the fall of 2001 — the same time the Canadian judicial inquiry into Arar's case established that he was, in fact, in Canada.
"I was troubled, troubled certainly, that Mr. Khadr had placed Mr. Arar at an al-Qaida training camp," MacKay said, without elaborating further.
The O'Connor inquiry into Arar's rendition to Syria in 2002 by the United States exonerated the Syrian-born Canadian citizen. Arar received an apology from the government and $10.5 million in compensation.
"The government hired Justice (Dennis) O'Connor to review all of the information around Mr. Arar's case, and some of that information is in the public realm, and some of that information is classified intelligence information," said Teneycke. "Justice O'Connor was able to review and assess both. He made a finding and a determination, and the government acted on that."
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

'Clearly Canada, Mr. Khadr’s counsel and everyone involved in these cases will be reassessing their positions,' Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday.
Photograph by: Mathieu Belanger, Reuters

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