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CBC readers divided after court orders Omar Khadr transferred to provincial jail

Categories: Canada

The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday that Omar Khadr should be housed in a provincial jail rather than federal prison because of his age when he committed his crimes. (Amanda McRoberts/The Canadian Press) readers had a lot to say after the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that Omar Khadr should be serving his time in a provincial facility and must be transferred from federal prison.

Khadr, a Canadian who pleaded guilty in a U.S. military court to war-crimes charges, would have been sentenced as a youth had he been in Canada, the judges wrote. That means Khadr would have served his time in a provincial jail and he should be sent there now, the judges said.

Khadr has been a divisive figure since 2002, when he was detained at age 15, after a deadly firefight in Afghanistan between U.S. forces and militants, in which a U.S. soldier was killed. Khadr, whose father was a senior member of al-Qaeda, was declared an unlawful enemy combatant and charged by the U.S. in 2005.

Here is a selection of some of the hundreds of comments left by readers.

Some wrote that they agreed with the ruling, and expressed varying degrees of sympathy for Khadr, especially concerning his treatment since his detainment at Guantanamo Bay.

  • "Besides the fact that there are questions surrounding whether Khadr did what he was accused of doing (lobbing a grenade), he was, by all definitions, a child soldier. In Africa, child soldiers guilty of horrible abominations are given a chance at rehabilitation, not imprisoned. What is the difference between those African child soldiers and Mr. Khadr, tortured and imprisoned now for well over a decade? - HelmholtzWatson

  • "Finally. Let's get this guy out of jail. ' Kills an American soldier as a child in the heat of battle after being pressed into service by his father.' How many Germans did exactly the same thing in 1944/45?" - DDDJJJJ

  • "@DDDJJJJ Thx for making sense. Until I read your comment I had no sympathy for the guy. But you're right, atrocities happened in WWII and when it was all over, few ever really paid for what they done - on both sides. Finally a rational argument." - ski50plus

  • "It is a start, but why don't we count the eight years he spent in custody BEFORE HE WAS EVEN CHARGED as time served? How a 15-year-old can be held for 8 years without being charged is beyond me, but we have the power to right that wrong by applying our own laws to the case and counting time served against his sentence." - benbarclay

  • "He's a child soldier, and we ratified a treaty saying we would rehabilitate, not prosecute, child soldiers. We dishonour our own laws even letting his kangaroo court 'conviction' stand. There are no fair trials at Gitmo." - The Tragically Flip

  • "War is horrendous. Indeed, so many die. Please remember too, the thousands of innocent Iraqi and Afghanistan citizens who were killed -- caught in the crossfire in a theatre of war. This soldier's death did not happen on a Toronto city street -- it happened in a war zone. One needs only look at the stats of innocent civilians who were killed during the war to know that the atrocities of war are vast. And remember too, that this soldier was attacking this child's home...Measured perspective is always needed when talking about the casualties of war." - cw1106

Many others were less sympathetic, chastising the Alberta Court of Appeal for what they characterized as a light-handed approach to a murder case.

  • "We live in a screwed up age. Some people, are more interested in 'helping' the criminals than they are the victims. Omar is a criminal. He murdered that man. Plain and simple. He deserves to be in, and stay in prison. Makes me sick how some people are trying to make him into some sort of hero." - ohonrawen'ta

  • "This is exactly why he should have stayed in Guantanamo. The Canadian 'justice' system is way too easy on bad people. Returning him here was nothing more than a slow release." - slgam!

  • "Great. The sooner he is out, the sooner he can an adult. The next time he will not be so lucky. Hopefully no one believes he is rehabilitated. It is unfortunate that he had to be returned to Canada at all. He was a boy ahead of his time. Now he can be the hero of many more who were raised here and have chosen the life of terrorists. We are a sad naive nation. Bless our souls." - Not Likely

  • "Ridiculous, if you commit a crime elsewhere you serve the time that you were given by them. If I was caught drunk driving in some countries I can go to jail but because I am Canadian I should not be able to say 'well, in my country that would only be a fine.'" - Equality for all

Several users responded to Equality for All's above comment:

  • "You're comparing ordinary criminal offences with war. There's a big difference," replied Griffin Aldjoy

  • "No one is saying that he is not going to serve his time. This is only about where he will serve it and I am frankly confused about this one. Seems to me that jail is jail," said MSmitty.

  • "He was wounded (shot in the back) as a child soldier in a war zone, held for years without charge, and tortured. I think that is a special context," responded RogerRaccoon.

Thanks for your continued comments, contributions and discussions. You can continue the conversation in the comments section below or in the main story on

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