Testimony ends in Guantanamo `child soldier` case

Testimony has ended in the sentencing hearing for a former teenage al Qaeda fighter with the defendant asking a jury to consider that US interrogators suggested he could be raped in prison.

Updated: Oct 30, 2010, 13:36 PM IST

US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay: Testimony
has ended in the sentencing hearing for a former teenage
al Qaeda fighter with the defendant asking a jury to consider
that US interrogators suggested he could be raped in prison.

A lawyer for Omar Khadr, the youngest detainee at
Guantanamo, read a statement from the defendant yesterday as
their final piece of evidence. It described an incident
shortly after his capture in Afghanistan in 2002 in which
interrogators told him a fictional story about an
uncooperative Afghan youth who was sent to an American prison
and raped.

"I know it does not change what I did, but I hope you
will think about it when you punish me," Khadr said. "This
story scared me very much, and made me cry."

Former Army Sgt. Joshua Claus admitted in an April
pretrial hearing that he told the fictional rape story to get
Khadr to talk. At the time, Khadr was hospitalised from
serious wounds, including two gunshots to the torso and
shrapnel in his eye, from a four-hour firefight with US forces
at an al-Qaida compound in southeastern Afghanistan. Claus
pleaded guilty to charges of maltreatment and assault
involving other detainees and was sentenced to five months in
prison.

Khadr`s lawyers previously disclosed the story about the
rape threat as they sought unsuccessfully to prevent
prosecutors from using the prisoner`s statements to
interrogators, arguing that it was part of a broader pattern
of abusive treatment that amounted to illegal coercion. But
the judge said there was no credible evidence that he was
coerced and ruled that he would allow a series of
incriminating interviews.

Khadr, now 24, pleaded guilty to five war crimes charges
including murder for throwing a grenade that mortally wounded
Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer. The jury of seven
military officers is expected to begin deliberating his
sentence today.

PTI