Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr’s war crimes sentence is over

Omar Khadr

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr has finished his war crimes sentence, a judge ruled on Monday.

Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Mary Moreau calculated the time Mr Khadr spent on conditional release for nearly four years as contributing towards his eight-year sentence.

Judge Moreau announced that his sentence was now complete.

Mr Khadr told reporters outside the court: “I think it’s been a while but I’m happy it’s here, and right now I’m going to just try to focus on recovering and not worrying about having to go back to prison, or, you know, just struggling.”

His lawyer, Nate Whitling, said efforts to overturn his client’s U.S. convictions will continue, but the ending of his sentence will mean more freedom.

Mr Whitling said: “So it’s a final decision… So we do expect this is the end of the road in terms of having to deal with Mr. Khadr’s sentence.

“All those conditions that were restricting his liberty up to this point are now gone, so for example he can apply for a passport, he can talk to his sister, he can travel around the world or around Canada without having to seek permission.”

Mr Khadr and his lawyer will now be focusing on getting a dismissal of his U.S. military commission conviction for allegedly killing an American soldier in Afghanistan. His eight-year sentence, which was handed down in 2010, expired last year if he had remained in custody.

Mr Whitling said: “We think that these convictions will eventually be overturned.

“And I think it will be determined there was never any jurisdiction to try Mr Khadr for these offences.”

Mr Khadr has been free on conditional bail since 2015.

Judge Moreau found those conditions reflected those that would have been imposed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act if Mr Khadr had been serving his sentence in the community.

In her 23-page ruling, Judge Moreau wrote: “Keeping in mind the YCJA principles emphasizing that young persons are entitled to both timely and prompt intervention and to effective rehabilitation and reintegration, I credit Mr Khadr for the time spent under the bail conditions.”

Mr Khadr spent several years in Guantanamo Bay after he was captured in 2002 and accused of tossing a grenade that killed Special Forces soldier Christopher Speer in Afghanistan. Khadr was 15 at the time of detention.

He was later transferred to Canada, where the Supreme Court ruled Mr Khadr’s sentence was to be served as a youth punishment. Mr Khadr was released on bail in May 2015 pending an appeal of his war crime convictions in the U.S.

Mr Khadr received a $10.5-million legal settlement and an official apology from the Canadian government in 2017.

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