Omar Khadr’s war crimes sentence is finished, Alberta judge rules

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Omar Khadr’s war crimes sentence is finished, Alberta judge rules

by - 2 min read

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Former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr has completed his sentence, an Alberta judge ruled Monday.

Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Mary Moreau counted the time Khadr spent on conditional release for nearly four years as counting toward his eight-year sentence.

Outside court, Khadr said he is pleased with the decision.

“I think it’s been a while but I’m happy it’s here, and right now I’m going to just try to focus on recovering and not worrying about having to go back to prison, or, you know, just struggling,” Khadr told reporters.

His lawyer, Nate Whitling, said efforts to overturn Khadr’s U.S. convictions will continue. But the completion of his sentence will mean more freedom for his client, Whitling said.

Restrictions on his liberty ‘gone’

“All those conditions that were restricting his liberty up to this point are now gone, so for example he can apply for a passport, he can talk to his sister, he can travel around the world or around Canada without having to seek permission.”

Khadr had sought a dismissal of his U.S. military commission conviction for killing an American soldier in Afghanistan. His eight-year sentence, which was imposed in 2010, would have expired last year if he had remained in custody.

Khadr has been out on bail since 2015.

Whitling told CBC News earlier that “our position is that the court does have the authority to effectively end Mr. Khadr’s sentence now, even though technically there’s still three years and five months remaining to be served.”

The prosecution argues Canada has international obligations to see that Khadr serves his full sentence.

Khadr spent several years in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after he was captured in 2002 and accused of tossing a grenade that killed special forces soldier Christopher Speer in Afghanistan. Khadr was 15 at the time. 

He was later transferred to Canada, where the Supreme Court ruled Khadr’s punishment was to be served as a youth sentence. Khadr was released on bail in May 2015 pending an appeal of his war crime convictions in the United States. Since then, he has lived in Edmonton and Red Deer without incident.  

Last month, Whitling told the court Khadr’s U.S appeal hasn’t advanced “even an inch.”

Khadr received a $10.5-million legal settlement and an official apology from the Canadian government in 2017. Whitling said Khadr wants to move past the sentence and “get on with his life.”

Read the full decision

This story originally appeared on CBC

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