The widow of an American soldier killed in has turned to a court north of the border in an effort to block the millions of dollars in compensation due to be paid by the Canadian government to Guantánamo Bay’s onetime youngest prisoner.
Canada to pay $10.5m to youngest Guantanamo inmate, convicted of killing US soldier
Ottawa – the last western detainee held at the notorious Cuba prison – with C$10.5m in redress, falling in line with a 2010 supreme court ruling that found Canadian officials had violated his rights.
Khadr was 15 years old when he was captured by US troops in Afghanistan following a firefight that resulted in the death of an American special forces medic, US army SFC Christopher Speer, and injured Sgt Layne Morris, who lost an eye.
The Canadian teenager was taken to Guantánamo and ultimately charged with war crimes by a military commission. He pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges that included murder, but
In 2015, a US judge ordered Khadr to pay Speer’s widow and Morris $134.2m in damages. While the payout seemed a slim possibility, Don Winder, the Utah-based lawyer representing Tabitha Speer and Morris, said they had suspected Khadr would obtain a settlement from the Canadian government.
In anticipation, Winder said on Tuesday that he had filed an application weeks ago to attempt to have a Canadian court enforce the US decision. “We will be proceeding with that application and trying to make sure that if he gets money it goes to the widow of Sgt Speer and Layne Morris for the loss of an eye,” Winder told the Associated Press. The application has not yet been heard in court.
The Canadian government’s apology and multimillion-dollar settlement to Khadr –which has yet to be confirmed by the Liberal government – comes years after Khadr’s lawyers filed a $20m lawsuit that argued Canadian officials were complicit in allowing the US to torture him and breach his rights.
The view was backed by a 2010 supreme court ruling, which said that the participation of Canadian officials in interrogations at Guantanamo Bay in 2003 ran contrary to the country’s human rights obligations and “offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects”.
Guantánamo video shows interrogation of sobbing Canadian youth
The court pointed to decisions by intelligence officials to deny Khadr counsel, instead obtaining evidence from him under “oppressive circumstances”, such as sleep deprivation and sharing that evidence with US officials.
The first person since the second world war to be prosecuted in a war crimes tribunal for acts committed as a juvenile, Khadr spent nearly 13 years in custody in a case that sparked political controversy in the US, Canada and around the world. After 10 years in Guantánamo, he was transferred to in 2012 and .
His lawyers have long maintained that he was pushed into war by his father, a charity worker with ties to senior al-Qaida leaders who was killed in 2003 by Pakistani forces.
Khadr now lives in Edmonton and is studying to become an emergency medical responder. In 2015, he apologised for any pain he might have caused the families of the victims. “There’s nothing I can do about the past,” . “But I hope that the future ... I can do something about the future.”