Guantanamo trial of "child soldier" begins
The military trial of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen accused of killing a US soldier in Afghanistan, got underway with jury selection in Guantanamo Bay on Tuesday, dpa reported.
Khadr, 23, appeared in court wearing a grey suit when the proceedings began. He is charged with the murder of a US soldier and other terrorism-related accusations, including providing support to al-Qaeda. He has been in US custody since he was 15 and is often referred to as the "child soldier."
Khadr's attorneys entered a not guilty plea on Monday during pre- trial hearings. In one decision, the judge, Army Colonel Patrick Parrish, ruled that admissions Khadr made to Federal Bureau of Investigation interrogators shortly after his capture will be allowed.
Defence attorneys sought to have the evidence thrown out, arguing that military interrogators abused and threatened him to obtain the admissions. The military treatment of Khadr affected his statements later made to FBI agents, they argued.
Prosecutors have insisted that Khadr was treated humanely and made up stories of abuse. He could face a maximum sentence of life if convicted on all the charges.
Khadr's military trial is the first at Guantanamo Bay for the Obama administration. The trials are a key aspect of Obama's plan to close the prison facility at Guantanamo, which currently holds 176 prisoners.
On taking office, Obama had initially sought to shutter Guantanamo by January, but it proved impossible to empty the prison so quickly. Other countries have resisted taking prisoners, and US legislators have sought to prevent the Obama administration from moving Guantanamo inmates to prisons on US soil.
During the presidential campaign, Obama criticized the military commission set up by his predecessor, George W Bush. Obama has revised the commissions to give defendants more rights, but that has not satisfied civil-rights groups, which argue that all the cases should be tried in federal courts.