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Published: Wednesday, 8/11/2010

Canadian's war crimes trial starts


GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba - Canadian terror suspect Omar Khadr came to court Tuesday in a mismatched suit and tie, stood and said "hello" to a jury of American military officers brought to this base from around the world to sit in judgment at his war crimes tribunal.

Lawyers and the judge spent the day questioning the pool of 15 officers on their suitability to sit on the first full war crimes trial of the Obama Administration.

Only five need to be chosen to hear the case.

Khadr, 23, was captured in Afghanistan at age 15. He allegedly threw a grenade in a July, 2002, firefight with U.S. Special Forces that killed Sgt 1st Class Christopher Speer, 28, of Albuquerque, N.M. He also is accused of building and planting land mines in a bid to resist the American invasion in reprisal for the 9-11 attacks.

Prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty in consideration of his age, but seek life imprisonment. He has already spent a third of his life in U.S. military custody.

Questioning of potential jurors ranged from their television viewing habits - all but three said they watch CSI-type shows - to whether they knew U.S. troops who had been maimed or killed by improvised explosive devices.

At issue was which of the U.S. officers' could impartially consider whether Guantanamo's youngest and last Western captive would be found guilty of killing a brother American soldier.

Khadr appeared fully engaged in the questioning of the pool.

His Canadian attorney, Dennis Edney, said he found the gray suit and black pants for Khadr in a closet of civilian clothes at the tribunal building. The trousers didn't reach Khadr's ankles. Mr. Edney said he knotted Khadr's tie.

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