Canada to award millions to former Guantanamo detainee

Ireland Canada

The Toronto-born former detainee was 15 years of age when he was shot and captured in Afghanistan in 2002, while the abuses occurred during his United States detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, the Toronto Star reported.

Canada will issue an apology and compensation to former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr for abuses he suffered while in prison, reports say. "Despite this, the current government is willing to provide $10 million to a convicted terrorist".

Prominent Canadians, activists and newspaper editorial boards have rallied behind Khadr for several years through public statements, visits to MPs, a parliamentary petition, and a letter writing campaign.

An official familiar with the deal said Tuesday that Omar Khadr will receive 10.5 million Canadian dollars (US$8 million). However, the court also ruled that it could not force the Canadian government to request that the USA send Khadr back to Canada.

"Most Canadians' thoughts would be with Christopher Speer's widow and family, who are reliving their bad ordeal once again because of the actions of the Canadian government this time", said Tony Clement, another Conservative MP.

Khadr, who was suspected of throwing the grenade that killed Speer, was taken to Guantanamo and ultimately charged with war crimes by a military commission. He has claimed - with some evidence - his American captors tortured him.

His legal team was pursuing Can$20 million against the Canadian government because his rights as a prisoner were violated.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims said it would welcome a "long overdue" apology and compensation.

Shelly Whitman, executive director of the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, says Canada didn't maintain worldwide child protection standards in Khadr's case.

The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated it does not have the power to confirm details to the press.

"Good news re: Omar Khadr, who was a child caught up in war and abandoned by Canadian government at Gitmo torture-detention centre", one tweet read.

A spokesman for Canada's justice ministry and the prime minister's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Trudeau, however, alluded to a pending deal.

"There is a judicial process underway that has been underway for a number of years now, and we are anticipating, like I think a number of people are, that that judicial process is coming to its conclusion", Trudeau told reporters in Ireland.

One source with knowledge of the agreement insisted the settlement money should not be seen as a windfall, noting Khadr is blind in one eye from injuries sustained when he was captured while his other eye remains damaged.

Mr. Khadr was captured in Afghanistan at the age of 15 in 2002, following a shootout with USA troops where he was badly wounded - blinded by shrapnel in one eye and with fist-sized exit wounds in his shoulder and chest.

Former Conservative defence minister Jason Kenney, now the leader of Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party, fired off an angry tweet on Tuesday about the $10.5-million in compensation that Ottawa is prepared to pay Mr. Khadr, who was accused of throwing a grenade that killed USA army medic Christopher Speer in the firefight. He later said he confessed to get out of Guantanamo. He was 15 years old at the time, and became the youngest detainee held at Guantanamo Bay.

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