A U.S. military judge ordered Monday that the trial of Omar Khadr proceed in a "judicious manner," in spite of a court appeal from Khadr's lawyers questioning whether the young Canadian can legally be tried at all.
'Alice in Wonderland really is the only way to describe it.' — Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler,lawyer for Omar Khadr
Judge Peter Brownback sent an e-mail order on Monday refusing to delay the court proceedings pending a review of the validity of the case, as requested by lawyers representing the Guantanamo detainee.
Khadr, 21, whose family lives in Toronto, was only 15 in 2002, when he was accused of throwing a grenade that killed U.S. medic Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer during a firefight in Afghanistan. Soon after the attack, Khadr was wounded and transferred to thenotoriousU.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Under the Military Commissions Act, which was revised and passed by the U.S. Congress in October 2006, military commissions only have jurisdiction to try "unlawful enemy combatants."
This was used as the basis of Brownback's ruling on June 4, in which he dismissed charges against Khadr on a technicality — prosecutors had labelled Khadr instead as an "enemy combatant," omitting the word "unlawful." Brownback said the court therefore had no jurisdiction in the case.
In a legal twist last month, however, a three-panel military appeals court ruled that the June decision was an error. They reinstated the terrorism charges, which prompted Khadr's lawyers to their appeal.
The lead military lawyer for Khadr, Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, was quick to condemn Brownback's decision on Monday.
"The Defence Department is so desperate to validate this broken process that they will disregard just about any concern of judicial economy or fairness to the accused," he said in a statement.
"They write a rule giving Omar a right to appeal, they tell Omar he has a right to appeal, and when he appeals, they claim he doesn't have a right to appeal — Alice in Wonderland really is the only way to describe it."
The date for the terrorism case to reopen is now set for Nov. 8.