(AFP) – Aug 3, 2010
WASHINGTON — The military attorney for Canadian Omar Khadr, whose war crimes trial was set to open August 10 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has asked the US Supreme Court for an urgent suspension of the trial.
In a petition, a copy of which was obtained by AFP Tuesday, Jon Jackson asked the US high court to have an appeals court make a ruling on the constitutionality of special military tribunals at the US naval base in Guantanamo. Khadr, 23, is set to be tried before one of them.
In the alternative, Jackson argued, the high court could issue its own decision on the courts' constitutionality.
US forces in Afghanistan took Khadr prisoner when he was just 15 years old in July 2002. He was later charged with war crimes for allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a US soldier, and now is the last Westerner held Guantanamo Bay.
"The Military Commissions Act of 2009 limits the jurisdiction of military commissions convened under its authority to non-citizen unlawful enemy belligerents," Jackson wrote.
"The uniqueness of that jurisdictional limitation in American military history cannot be overstated. Without exception, since the Revolutionary War, both the ordinary, courts-martial system and the jurisdiction of +law-of-war+ military commissions have tried Americans alongside aliens," he stressed.
Khadr, who has sacked his American defense lawyers and refused a plea deal, is facing the possibility of life in prison.
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