Military judge: Nobody tortured terror suspect Omar Khadr

The Miami Herald reports that an Army interrogator’s tale of gang rape in an American prison didn’t coerce Canadian captive Omar Khadr to confess to anything while he was held as a teen terror suspect in Afghanistan, a military commissions judge said in a Guantánamo war court ruling made public Friday.

Army Col. Patrick Parrish, the judge, also found “no credible evidence” of torture “even using a liberal interpretation considering the accused’s age” in the U.S. military’s interrogations of the Toronto-born Khadr, who was nearly dead when captured in a Special Forces raid on a suspected al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002. 

Defense attorneys argued that Khadr’s first interrogation, coupled with the rape scenario, so soon after U.S. medical forces saved him from chest wounds and eye injuries led the young Canadian to tell his captors whatever they wanted to hear.But Parrish wrote that “he had sufficient training, education and experience to understand the circumstances in which he found himself.” Rather than the rape story, the judge said, it was the military’s discovery of a videotape at the bombed out site of the July 2002 firefight that showed Khadr learning to make and plant landmines that got him to start offering incriminating statements.

Moreover, the veteran Army judge gave greater weight to the credibility of former and present U.S. military who testified at a pretrial hearing because they underwent “the crucible of cross-examination,” while Khadr chose to not allow prosecutors to question him on a sworn affidavit that alleged a long list of abuse.

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  1. Military Judge Patrick J. Parrish, presiding over the military commission against Omar Khadr for alleged war crimes, has denied the accused’s suppression motions, finding that the U.S. government “met its burden to show the admissibility of the statements and videotape by a preponderance of the evidence.” In the nine-page decision, Judge Parrish gives a brief description of Khadr’s claims that his incriminating statements were made under torture and that the videotape is a “fruit of the poisonous tree,” but ultimately rules that his allegations are unsubstantiated.

    Khadr, a Canadian citizen currently being tried by a military commission, was fifteen when he was first captured in a fight against American forces in Afghanistan. During the fight, Khadr allegedly threw a grenade that mortally wounded a U.S. soldier. A videotape depicting Khadr with an explosive device was later uncovered and is one of the major pieces of evidence in the case against Khadr. Khadr has asked that his incriminating statements and the videotape be suppressed as both were obtained illegally through torture or threats of torture. Specifically, Khadr argues that the videotape is “fruit of the poisonous tree,” meaning that its inclusion should be prohibited because it was found directly from illegally procured statements.

    The U.S. government claims that Khadr was never tortured or mistreated. In fact, the government states, U.S. medics saved his life. The U.S. government asserts that Khadr’s allegations of being threatened, being forced to wear a hood during interrogations, being refused medical treatment, being frightened by dogs, and being forced to endure stress positions and other cruel environments were false and without proof. Finally, the U.S. government argues, the videotape was not found because of a statement made by Khadr during the interrogations but confiscated as part of a separate search of the premises where the initial fight took place.

    Judge Parrish agreed with the government, ruling that “under the totality of the circumstances, the statements offered against the accused are reliable, possess sufficient probative value, were made voluntarily, [and] are not the product of torture or mistreatment.”

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