Khadr says sorry to slain soldier`s widow

Canadian war crimes detainee Omar Khadr has said he was sorry to the widow of the American soldier he killed in Afghanistan eight years ago.

Updated: Oct 29, 2010, 11:05 AM IST

US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay: Canadian
war crimes detainee Omar Khadr has said he was sorry to the
widow of the American soldier he killed in Afghanistan eight
years ago.

Speaking for the first time as a military jury considered
his sentence for the killing; Khadr took the stand yesterday
after Tabitha Speer said her children, not Khadr, were the
real victims, in emotional testimony that had members of the
audience wiping away tears.

Khadr, who was 15 years old in July 2002 when he hurled
the grenade that killed sergeant Christopher Speer, apologised
to her and said, "I`m really sorry for the pain I caused to
your family.

"I wish I could do something to take that pain away."
Questioned by his military defense lawyer Jon Jackson,
Khadr said he chose to plead guilty "to take responsibility
for the acts I`ve done."

During his brief statement, which was not under oath or
subject to cross examination, Khadr, now 24, said his eight
years in prison had taught him "the beauty of life."

He said he wanted to become a doctor because "I`ve
experienced emotional things and I know what pain is. I`d
really love to relieve a person from such pain."

Khadr pleaded guilty under an agreement with prosecutors
that reportedly calls for him to serve eight more years in
prison, seven of them in Canada, unless the seven-member
military jury hands down a lesser sentence.

With the plea deal, Khadr escapes a possible life prison
term and the US government avoids a long and controversial
trial of a detainee portrayed by his supporters as a child
soldier.

As Khadr sat with head bowed, however, Tabitha Speer
spoke of the loss his actions inflicted on her family.

"My husband was a good man. You will forever be a
murderer in my eyes," said Speer, as court audience members
wiped away tears. She also read from short, poignant letters
written by daughter Taryn, 11, and eight-year-old son Tanner.

Taryn, addressing her words directly to Khadr, wrote how
she was mad "at you for what you did to my family. Because of
you, my dad never got to see me play soccer... you make me
really sad."

"Because of Omar Khadr I`ve practically never known or
seen my dad," Tanner wrote. "Army rocks. Bad guys stink."

"The victims, they are my children, not you," Speer said.

PTI