Omar Khadr's bail decision in hands of Alberta judge

A federal prosecutor has asked an Alberta judge to consider diplomatic relations with the United States when she decides whether to grant bail to Omar Khadr.

Crown asks judge to consider Canada-U.S. relations before making decision

After two days of hearings, a judge is deciding whether Omar Khadr, shown in this undated image from Bowden Institution, in Innisfail, Alta., can be released on bail. (Bowden Institution/Canadian Press)

A federal prosecutor has asked an Alberta judge to consider diplomatic relations with the United States when she decides whether to grant bail to Omar Khadr.

Bruce Hughson suggested Wednesday that awarding the 28-year-old bail as he waits to appeal his conviction on war-crimes in the U.S. could jeopardize the willingness of other countries to transfer offenders to Canada.

Khadr's lawyer Nate Whitling rejected the argument.

"We don't have any reason to believe that that's true, said Whitling. "This is the same type of release that Omar could seek if he was in the United States.

He knows better than to get his hopes up.— Lawyer Nate Whitling on Omar Khadr

"So it's nothing really surprising or outlandish for him to request bail pending appeal."

After two days of arguments, Court of Queen’s Bench Judge June Ross reserved her decision, ending the often complex bail hearing with the words, "I think I’m out questions."

Ross would not say how long she will take to make a decision. 

"I will give this high priority. It’s a big job, though, and I will give it the time that it needs."

Khadr, meanwhile, "knows better than to get his hopes up," Whitling said.

'Feels that he got a fair hearing'

"He certainly feels that he got a fair hearing — a lot fairer hearing than he ever got in Guantanamo, Whitling said. "He has faith in the Canadian justice system — unlike the Guantanamo Bay system."

Khadr, born in Toronto, allegedly threw a grenade that killed U.S. soldier Christopher Speer in Afghanistan 13 years ago.

He was imprisoned at the notorious U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay detention camp at age 15, before pleading guilty in 2010 to murder in violation of the law of war.

He later said he only pleaded guilty so he could get out of Guantanamo.

Khadr was eventually transferred to Canada and last year moved to the Bowden medium-security penitentiary in Innisfail, Alta.

Rights advocates and some legal scholars consider Khadr to have been a child soldier brainwashed by his father, an al-Qaeda lieutenant.

Khadr is eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence in October 2016.

His sentence expires in 2018.

King's University College in Edmonton has offered Khadr a place as a mature student, while Dennis Edney, Khadr's attorney for the last decade, has welcomed him to live with his family.


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