Election of Obama unlikely to help Khadr: defence lawyer
While the election of Barack Obama to the White House may herald the closure of the U.S. military prison in Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, the lawyer for Canadian detainee Omar Khadr says it's unlikely to help his client.
"No one, particularly an Obama administration, wants to be perceived as giving rights to terrorists as their first act in office," Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, Khadr's defence lawyer, told CBC News Tuesday.
Khadr, 22, has been held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba since his capture in Afghanistan following a bloody firefight near the Pakistani border in 2002. He is due to stand trial in January, charged with war crimes and accused of murdering a U.S. soldier.
Obama has voiced his opposition to the Military Commissions Act signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006, which allows military commissions to try those accused of with war crimes.
In a speech posted to his website, he spoke of his faith in U.S. civilian courts, and proposed phasing out military commissions, like the one that would hear Khadr's trial.
Obama has also called for the closure of the prison in Guantanamo Bay, a position echoed by his recent rival for the presidency, John McCain.
But with Khadr's trial scheduled for Jan. 26, a mere six days after Obama's inauguration, Kuebler said even if Obama makes any changes to the military trial system, they would be unlikely to affect his client.
The U.S. accuses Khadr of throwing a hand grenade that killed an American army medic following a fierce four-hour firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002.
Khadr, who was 15 at the time, was badly wounded and near death when he was captured. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly refused to intervene in the case, saying the U.S. proceedings should continue.
With files from Bill Gillespie