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Gitmo trial begins for child soldier

[ 2010-08-12 13:34]     字号 [] [] []  
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A smiling Omar Khadr appeared in a suit and tie on Tuesday and greeted prospective jurors at the start of his trial, billed by defense lawyers as the first war-crimes prosecution of a child soldier since World War II.

Khadr, the Toronto-born son of an alleged al-Qaida financier, is the youngest prisoner at Guantanamo and the only remaining Westerner.

He was 15 when he allegedly hurled a grenade that killed a US Delta Force soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002. The trial will be closely watched as the first under US President Barack Obama, whose administration is weighing whether to use the embattled Guantanamo courts as a possible venue for dozens of other detainees - including high-value figures such as the self-professed mastermind of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks and four alleged henchmen.

The Khadr case has been held up by legal wrangling at several versions of the tribunal system since he made his first appearance in the courthouse overlooking the Caribbean Sea in 2006. As his Pentagon-appointed attorney introduced him to the pool of 15 US military officers, Khadr, now 23, stood and said to them in English: "How are you?"

Defense lawyers and prosecutors spent much of the day asking prospective jurors their opinions on matters including the significance of a juvenile offender's age and the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's special representative for children and armed conflict, slammed the trial meanwhile, insisting that "children should not be tried before military tribunals."

Khadr's case "will set a precedent that may endanger the status of child soldiers all over the world," she said, urging Canada and the United States "to come to a mutually acceptable solution ... that would prevent him from being convicted of a war crime that he allegedly committed when he was child."


1. Where was Khadr born?

2. How old was he when allegedly hurled a grenade at a US soldier?

3. How old is he now?


1. Toronto.

2. 15.

3. 23.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Gitmo trial begins for child soldier

About the broadcaster:

Gitmo trial begins for child soldier

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.