U.S. lawyers try to stifle Khadr appeal

Canadian Omar Khadr shouldn't be able to appeal his terrorism case in a regular U.S. court until his military trial is over, U.S. government lawyers said Monday.

Canadian Omar Khadr shouldn't be able to appeal his terrorism case in a regularU.S. court until his military trial is over, U.S. government lawyers said Monday.

In a submission to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., district, the lawyersargued that Khadr must first face judgment in atribunal at the U.S. detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"There is no final judgment for this court to review," U.S. attorney John De Pue wrote.

"No court has adjudicated the charges against Khadr. Indeed, no court has yet conclusively determined whether the military commission has jurisdiction over Khadr."

It's the latest legal twist in what Khadr's lawyers call the "sad and strange saga" of militarytribunals set up by U.S. President George W. Bush for foreign terrorism suspects.

Khadr, whose family lives in the Toronto area, is charged with killing a U.S. soldierduring afirefight withU.S.troops inAfghanistan in July 2002, and with providing material supportfor terrorism.

Khadr,who is now 21 but was15 at the time, was arrested during the battle and sent to Guantanamo three months later. He's been held there ever since.

He is also charged with attempted murder, plantingmines in Afghanistan, spying for al-Qaeda and conspiring with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Last week, a U.S. military judge ordered Khadr to appear Nov. 8 for a hearing at theU.S. naval base in Cuba.

The hearing is supposed to determine whether Khadr is, in fact, an "unlawful" enemy combatant who can be tried by the military tribunal.

In June, Col. Peter Brownback, a U.S. armyjudge,threw outall charges against Khadr, saying he didn't have jurisdiction to hear the case because it hadn't yet been determined that Khadr was fighting illegally when heisalleged to havethrown the grenade that killed Sgt. Christopher Speer.

But a special military appeals court said in September that Brownback has the authority to make that determination.

It's that ruling that Khadr's lawyers are appealing.

'Now they're unmaking rules'

While government lawyers called the defence appeal "frivolous," Khadr's military lawyer, Lt.-Cmdr. William Kuebler, said it's outrageous that they're complaining. The militarytribunalsare supposed to allow for an appeal to regular courts from either side during a military trial, he said.

"Usually, they're making up rules as they go along. Now they're unmaking rules," Kuebler said.

Khadr's military trial has been plagued by legal wrangling since it began in January 2006.

Canada has refused to get involved in the case, even though countries like Britain have demanded their citizens be sent home to face justice.

Khadr is the last prisoner from a western country at Guantanamo's detention facility, which has been widely condemned by human rights groups.

Khadr spent several years of his childhood in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His family are reputed to be al-Qaeda sympathizers.