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The Toronto Star

Khadr Loses Bid To Have Case Tossed

Military judge rules Pentagon official didn't exert unlawful influence

Michelle Shephard

Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, in a June 4, 2008 file photo. (REUTERS/BRENNAN LINSLEY)

Lawyers for Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr have lost their bid to have his charges dismissed due to unlawful political influence.

The military judge presiding over the Canadian's case ruled yesterday that senior Pentagon official Brig.-Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann did not improperly influence military prosecutors concerning Khadr's case.

Hartmann's conduct as a legal adviser for Guantanamo's war crimes trials has come under intense scrutiny this year and two military judges presiding over cases of other detainees had already excluded him from the proceedings.

At a pre-trial hearing for Khadr last month, Hartmann was described as overbearing and tactless and alleged to have overstepped his role as legal adviser to become the "de facto chief prosecutor."

But Army Col. Patrick Parrish ruled yesterday that Khadr's lawyers had not presented evidence to show that he had an impact on Khadr's case.

Parrish did, however, rule that Hartmann could not provide legal advice during the "post-trial process," because of "the appearance that he will be unable to remain neutral and impartial."

Khadr is charged with five war crimes under the Military Commissions Act, including murder for the death of U.S. Sgt. Christopher Speer in Afghanistan in July 2002.

The act, signed into law in 2006, laid the framework for the first U.S. war crimes trials since World War II. The legislation created an office known as the "convening authority," which was intended to be a neutral arbiter between the defence and prosecution. Hartmann is the legal adviser to the convening authority.

Khadr is scheduled to appear for a pre-trial hearing in Guantanamo next Wednesday. His trial is slated to begin Oct. 8.


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