Defense Backs Down in Canadian Teen's Gitmo Case
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, April 7, 2006 The defense team in the case of a Canadian teen accused of terrorism backed down today on a motion that caused a near-boycott of proceedings April 5.
The defense withdrew its motion to have Omar Khadr, 19, moved from a maximum-security facility back to his usual medium-security facility. Khadr was moved to the maximum-security facility March 30, according to Marine Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, his detailed defense counsel.
In a heated commission session April 5, Vokey asserted that the move put strain on the attorney-client relationship and made it difficult for the defense to prepare their case. At the time, he put in an oral motion to have Khadr moved back and said that he didn't feel comfortable proceeding with the hearing until this issue was dealt with, because it was Khadr's main priority.
Today, however, Vokey said that after discussing the move with government officials, he realized that it was not done out of punishment and that the conditions of Khadr's confinement are not interfering with their case preparation.
"We are satisfied with the accommodations now," Vokey said at a news conference after proceedings ended. "We are going to continue to closely monitor how Omar's being treated."
In a statement issued yesterday, Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand, a Joint Task Force Guantanamo spokesman, said that detainees charged by the Office of Military Commissions are transferred to maximum-security facilities for their own protection.
"Detainee security and protection is of utmost concern," Durand stated. "Moving detainees to a maximum-security facility ensures the physical security of the detainee, which cannot be done in a communal-living environment."
Regardless of detention location, detainees are still able to meet with their lawyers in private rooms that respect attorney-client privilege, Durand said. These detainees remain in a maximum-security setting during the commissions process, and where they will reside after the process depends on the outcome of the commissions, he said.
Khadr is charged with attempted murder based on the allegation that he emplaced improvised explosive devices on routes frequented by U.S. military convoys. He also is charged in connection with a grenade attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer and two Afghan military members in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002.