Khadr jury hears sentencing arguments

The prosecution calls Omar Khadr "a terrorist" who deserves 25 years in prison, while the defence says he was coerced by his father into going to Afghanistan.

Prosecution recommends 25 years in prison for 'hate crimes in the extreme'

Omar Khadr could find out Sunday how long a jury thinks he should serve for the grenade death of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, after a military jury heard closing arguments in the case on Saturday.

A courtroom sketch shows Omar Khadr being led into court by two army escorts during his sentencing hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Friday. ((Janet Hamlin/Canadian Press))

The prosecution was called first to give sentencing arguments to a military jury of seven officers at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Lead prosecutor Jeff Groharing called the Toronto-born man "a terrorist and murderer" who should serve 25 years in prison.

Jeff Groharing told the jury of three women and four men that Khadr intended to murder Americans, knew "full well" the aims of al-Qaeda, and his offences "amount to hate crimes in the extreme."

"The world is watching," said Groharing, a former U.S. marine. "He must be punished severely. … he doesn't fight for a country, he fights for a religion."

Khadr's offences would warrant a life sentence, but in light of Khadr's age and other circumstances, Groharing said 25 years would be appropriate.

Khadr, 24, pleaded guilty earlier this week to five charges, including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support to terrorists and spying.

Coerced as a child, defence says

Defence lawyer Lt.-Col. Jon Jackson said Saturday that his client was coerced into going to Afghanistan by his father and that it's well known al-Qaeda uses children to fight its battles.

Jackson said Khadr deserves "not a second chance" but a "first chance," because he has never had that before. He did not made a recommendation in terms of number of years for a prison sentence but instead asked the the jury to consider the time Khadr has already spent in detention. Khadr has been in U.S. military detention since his capture in 2002 at the age of 15.

The prosecution's recommendation of 25 years in prison flies in the face of a plea deal reportedly agreed to earlier in talks between Washington and Ottawa.

Khadr's lawyer said that deal calls for an eight-year sentence, with Khadr serving a maximum of one year in Guantanamo Bay, before applying to serve the rest of his sentence in Canada.

After deliberating for about five hours, the jury broke late Saturday afternoon without reaching a decision. They are due to resume deliberating at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday.