Monday, October 25, 2010

The trial of Omar K

Put yourself in Omar Khadr's spot.

You have been told by your family that it is God's will that you fight in a foreign land. At the age of 10, your family takes you to live in Osama bin Laden's compound in Afghanistan. When you are 15, you are captured by US forces in a firefight.*

You are grievously wounded. The enemy doesn't consider you entitled to the protection of the Geneva Conventions. You are tortured and threatened with gang rape unless you confess to whatever it is they want you to confess to.

You spend almost a decade in a cage. You will not be tried by a regular court, but by members of the military. The first judge in your case is dismissed by the Pentagon--he made too many rulings favourable to you. He is replaced by a "judge" who had you tried and convicted before his serge-clad bottom ever touched the bench from which he now presides. The evidence against you is doctored? No matter. You were tortured into making self-incriminating statements? Not relevant.

You're facing life in prison, kid, and it'll be hard time every step of the way.

Your own country's government, meanwhile, has an apparent problem with dark-skinned Canadians, and is happy to let you rot in a foreign jail. There will be no winging your way back home on a taxpayer-funded private jet, no, sirree.

Then, suddenly, you're offered a "deal." Just confess to whatever it is they want you to confess to, and they'll make it a mere eight more years. And they'll even twist your government's arm to let you spend most of that in Canada.

Would you plead "guilty," regardless of whether you have done anything culpable? And tell your captors what they want to hear?

I would.

I'd swear that I'd murdered Archduke Ferdinand, JFK and Martin Luther King if it would get me out of the clutches of the Gitmo jailers and Col. Patrick Parrish's kangaroo court.

Says Khadr's lawyer, Dennis Edney: "There is no justice here. He either pleads guilty to avoid trial or he goes to trial and the trial is an unfair process."

Rock, Khadr, hard place. An admirable summing-up of this shameful travesty of justice.

*Thanks to reader Kev for correcting the timeline. And Holly Stick.

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