Khadr trial asks jury: Jihadist or scared teen?

Friday, August 13, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

GUANTANAMO BAY — Omar Khadr was either an enthusiastic teen jihadist who happily planted explosive devices and comforted himself in times of loneliness with thoughts of killing U.S. soldiers.

Or he was a frightened, cowed 15-year-old, dragged by a zealous father to Afghanistan against his will, caught up with a bad crowd, taken captive while gravely wounded and tortured into submission and confession by his captors.

The 23-year-old Canadian’s military jury was presented two contrasting portraits of the young man. Duelling sides of his Guantanamo Bay war-crimes trial sought to trump each other in painting what happened during a protracted 2002 Afghan firefight that left a U.S. army sergeant dead and the then-15-year-old severely wounded in U.S. custody.

But the opening salvos in what promises to be a long battle of competing narratives were cut short Thursday when Mr. Khadr’s military-appointed lawyer passed out during cross-examination, apparently from pain related to gallbladder surgery six weeks ago.

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The jury who will decide Omar Khadr’s fate

Thursday, August 12, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

GUANTANAMO BAY — Omar Khadr’s trial begins in earnest Thursday, with lawyers set to give opening arguments after days of grilling would-be jurors and settling on a seven-person panel to decide the fate of the first person tried in the Obama administration’s war-commissions process.

Next come witnesses for the prosecution and defence; the trial will likely go for weeks before a verdict is reached.

Eight of the original 15 members of Mr. Khadr’s jury pool were dismissed Wednesday, after lawyers made arguments to get rid of potential jurors they worry would not be sympathetic to their arguments.

Prosecution lawyer Jeff Groharing tried to convince military judge Colonel Patrick Parrish to jettison jurors who expressed reservations about Guantanamo Bay, detainee treatment and trying 15-year-olds as adults.

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