Just as soon as Omar Khadr’s trial began, it’s stopped; Khadr’s lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, collapsed in the courthouse late yesterday. Doctors suspect it is related to a surgery Jackson had six weeks earlier, but nonetheless the judge ordered a thirty-day recess. This is, of couse, on top of the several years’ delay Khadr saw in detention before coming before a military tribunal this summer to answer for alleged war crimes, specifically the death of an American soldier by a grenade Khadr threw.
During the trial’s first day, evidence was presented to the court of Khadr handling bomb-making materials from an al-Qaeda-published video.
The video of Khadr was introduced as one of the first pieces of evidence recovered along with bomb-making materials from a mud-walled compound in eastern Afghanistan where he allegedly threw the grenade that killed Sergeant 1st Class Christopher Speer, 28, of Albuquerque, New Mexico during a four-hour firefight on 27 July 2002.
Khadr has denied throwing the grenade and Jackson said another fighter lobbed the explosive before he was killed by a US soldier who also shot Khadr twice in the back.
No eyewitness saw Khadr throw the grenade. Defence lawyers say the case depends on purported confessions extracted through mistreatment, including an interrogation conducted while Khadr was still on a stretcher in Bagram, Afghanistan.
But does a thirty day recess help or harm the case? As charged as it is, and after pushing several years for the trial to come before a tribunal, thirty days may not make or break anything. Still, it doesn’t help that one day in everything’s put on hold.