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Judge rules in favour of Omar Khadr's request to end remaining sentence

Omar Khadr outside of an Edmonton court in February 2019.
Omar Khadr outside of an Edmonton court in February 2019. - Contributed

An Alberta judge has ruled in favour of Omar Khadr’s request to effectively end his eight-year sentence for the killing of a U.S. soldier.

Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Mary Morneau made the ruling Monday morning in Edmonton. Khadr was seeking the three and a half years remaining on his 2010 youth sentence to be reduced to one day as he awaits a decision in his U.S. appeal.

He was granted bail in 2015 after appealing his conviction for the killing of American special forces officer Christopher Speer. Speer was killed during a firefight in Afghanistan when Khadr was 15. His eight-year sentence had stopped counting down when bail was granted but the appeal has not yet been heard. Without bail, Khadr’s sentence would have ended in October.

Khadr’s lawyer, Nate Whitling, brought forward an application to Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Mary Morneau in February. Whitling requested a review of Khadr’s youth sentence under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, as it is the only avenue youth have for early release.

Arguments centred around the wording of one sentence for review decisions in the youth act. Whitling said “a period not exceeding the remainder of the youth sentence” can be determined as the court has the discretion to reduce a remaining sentence.

Crown and provincial counsel, however, did not reject the opportunity for review but rather the wording in the youth act. They argued the review process is not intended to alter sentencing.

Khadr previously spent 10 years detained at Guantanamo Bay. In 2017, the Canadian government settled with Khadr for $10.5 million, and apologized for the role officials played in the abuses he suffered in U.S. custody.

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