As predicted a couple of weeks ago, convicted murderer and terrorist Omar Khadr is back on Canadian soil, or, at least, in prison here.
A question being asked (see here for example) is whether, now he’s under Canadian jurisdiction, will Khadr be charged with treason? Should this occur and should he be found guilty, Khadr would be liable to a sentence of life imprisonment.
As Alberta Ardvark blog has pointed out, the Criminal Code of Canada, Sec. 46-1 states, inter alia, that a Canadian Citizen commits high treason if, while in or out of Canada, “he assists an enemy at war with Canada, or any armed forces against whom Canadian Forces are engaged in hostilities, whether or not a state of war exists between Canada and the country whose forces they are.”
And Sec. 47-1 provides that, “Every one who commits high treason is guilty of an indictable offence and shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life.” And that “the sentence of imprisonment for life prescribed by subsection (1) is a minimum punishment.” [emphasis mine]
In my view, there is a prima facie case to be made against Omar Khadr, since in October 2010 he pleaded guilty to five charges against him—as part of a plea agreement with U.S. military commission prosecutors—including the murder of U.S. Army combat medic, Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer, who was fatally wounded during a skirmish in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002.
It is now a matter of public record that:
“On October 25, 2010, Khadr pled guilty to murder of [SFC Christopher] Speer in violation of the laws of war, attempted murder in violation of the laws of war, conspiracy, two counts of providing material support for terrorism and spying in the United States.” [source]
If he is not guilty as charged in the U.S., then he is now unlawfully imprisoned in Canada and must be released immediately. But if he is guilty, then Canadian authorities should charge him with high treason and he should then stand trial in Canada.
In my view, therefore, the debate should be over what contradictory evidence exists that could be presented at trial to explain why Khadr’s actions do not constitute high treason.
The only such evidence I’ve heard is the matter of his age at the time he committed the crimes. Instead of the—some not so well informed—opinions of journalists and various others who favour the release of Khadr, I’d surely like to hear what a real Canadian court has to say about this.
Was Omar Khadr—at 15 years old—really a child soldier under Canadian law, and, if he was, does that exonerate him? After all, youth aged 14 to 18 may be tried and/or sentenced as adults under certain conditions. I am looking forward to a definitive answer to these central questions.
If Khadr is unlawfully imprisoned, release him immediately. Otherwise, I expect to see him stand trial for high treason.