Saturday, September 29, 2012

Omar Khadr back in Canada [Photos] [Video]

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Convicted terrorist Omar Khadr is back in Canada.

Khadr landed at CFB Trenton military base at 7:40 a.m. (ET) Saturday after being transported from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, aboard a U.S. government aircraft, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews confirmed during a news conference in Winnipeg.

Khadr was then transported by to Millhaven Institution, a maximum security penitentiary in Bath, Ont.

"I am satisfied the Correctional Service of Canada can administer Omar Khadr's sentence in a manner which recognizes the serious nature of the crimes that he has committed and ensure the safety of Canadians is protected during incarceration," Toews said. "Any decisions related to his future will be determined by the independent Parole Board of Canada in accordance with Canadian law."

The 26-year-old Toronto native struck a plea deal in 2010 that saw him sentenced to eight years in prison for five war crimes, including killing U.S. Special Forces medic Christopher Speer 10 years ago in an Afghan firefight.

His sentence ends Oct. 30, 2018.

Despite green-lighting the repatriation, Toews expressed several concerns about the case to the media on Saturday.

These included the fact Khadr has "had very little contact with Canadian society and therefore will require substantial management in order to ensure safe reintegration" and that he has "participated in terrorist training, military operations, and meetings involving al-Qaida leadership."

Amnesty International Canada, which has been lobbying for Khadr's repatriation for years, was celebrating news of his return Saturday and is among his supporters who argue he was a child soldier at the time of his capture.

Hilary Homes, a security and human rights campaigner at the organization, said the "decision is long overdue" and that it would continue to monitor his case.

"The quest for justice in the case of Omar Khadr is far from over, and in many ways this repatriation back to Canada is really just the start of a new chapter in what's now a saga that's lasted over a decade," she said.

The NDP and the Liberals are also supportive of his return, though the Grits didn't push for his repatriation when they were in power before 2006.

Khadr had been held at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay since 2002, following his capture during a firefight in Afghanistan when he was 15-years-old.

A Canadian citizen and the last Western detainee being held at Guantanamo Bay, he had been petitioning the Canadian government for his returned as early as 2005.

In January 2010, the Supreme Court refused to order his repatriation but did rule Khadr's right to life, liberty and security of the person had been violated during his detention.

During his 2010 trial, a diplomatic note between Canada and the U.S.indicated Canada was "inclined to favourably consider" his transfer from Guantanamo Bay to serve the balance of his sentence north of the border.

Still, signing off on his transfer to Canada was in Toews' hands.

Khadr's personal transfer application landed on the minister's desk in March 2011 and Toews received the formal U.S. application in April.

Khadr's lawyers have accused the Canadian government of dragging its feet on the Guantanamo Bay inmate's repatriation and as recently as this summer had taken that matter to Federal Court in a bid to speed Khadr's return.



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