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U.S. Chained Wounded Canadian Teen to Door: Medic

Jane Sutton

Canadian defendant Omar Khadr (C) sits with his defense team as FBI Special Agent Robert Fuller (L) testifies during a War Crimes Commission hearing on the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, in this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin, reviewed by U.S. Department of Defense officials, taken and released on April 29, 2010. (REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool)

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba - Canadian captive Omar Khadr was hooded, crying and chained to a door outside his cell in Afghanistan around the time he turned 16, a former U.S. medic testified on Monday in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal.

The former Army medic, identified only as M, testified in a hearing to determine whether Khadr was coerced into confessing that he threw a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan.

Khadr, now 23, was 15 when captured in a firefight at a suspected al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002 and would be the first person tried in a U.S. war crimes tribunal for acts allegedly committed as a minor. It would also be the first tribunal under a law President Barack Obama signed in 2009 banning the use of evidence obtained through inhumane treatment.

Medic M treated Khadr's gunshot wounds and shrapnel injuries at the detention center at the Bagram U.S. air base in Afghanistan between mid-August and late October 2002, during which time Khadr turned 16.

The medic described once finding Khadr standing in the entryway outside his cell with his hands chained to the metal-mesh door just above eye level.

"We pulled off the hood that was over his head and I asked him what was ailing him, if there was some type of medical issue he might be having," the former medic testified by video link from an undisclosed location. "I then noted that he was crying."

Khadr seemed frustrated and "not very cordial," M said, adding, "I had never seen him like that before."

The medic said such treatment was common punishment for prisoners held at Bagram during the early part of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan but that he did not know why Khadr was being disciplined.

"He did not mention whether he was in any particular pain," M testified. "It appeared to me that he was much more frustrated than anything else."

Khadr was shot twice through the back and shoulder during the battle that led to his capture, and blinded in one eye by shrapnel. The medic said he was "amazed" at how quickly Khadr's wounds healed and that he would have notified his supervisors if he thought chaining him to the door would aggravate his injuries.

Khadr was sent to the detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in October 2002 and faces trial in July on five charges that could keep him imprisoned for life, including murder, conspiring with al Qaeda and planting roadside bombs targeting U.S. troops.

Khadr claims that during at least 142 interrogations in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, he was beaten, chained in painful positions, forced to urinate on himself, terrorized by barking dogs, subjected to flashing lights and sleep deprivation and threatened with rape.

Like the six military interrogators and FBI agents who have testified during the last week, medic M said he never saw any maltreatment.

The tribunal is expected to hear later from the first military interrogator to question Khadr at Bagram, a soldier later court-martialed for assaulting an Afghan prisoner whose death at Bagram was ruled a homicide.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

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