The United States of America becomes the first country in the history of the world to charge a child with war crimes.
The U.S. military has charged a 20-year-old Canadian held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a suspected terrorist with murder and other crimes, the Pentagon announced.
Omar Ahmed Khadr, captured by U.S. troops in Afghanistan when he was 15, was formally charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism and spying, according to the Pentagon’s announcement on Tuesday.
The charge of murder stems from a gunfight during which he threw a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier, Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer, before being captured by U.S. troops.
Khadr received about a month of one-on-one training from an al Qaeda member on rocket-propelled grenades, rifles, pistols, hand grenades and explosives in June 2002, according to his charge sheet. It said he spied on the U.S. military, converted land mines to roadside bombs intended to target U.S. troops and engaged coalition troops in small arms fire.
In charging Khadr, the U.S. becomes the first country to try a war crimes suspect who was a child at the time of the alleged violations, The Associated Press cited his Pentagon-appointed defense attorney, Marine Lt. Col. Colby Volkey, as saying.
Opponents of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay criticized authorities for subjecting Khadr to the same military trial system as adult terror suspects, AP reported. In any other conflict, he would have been treated as a child soldier, AP quoted Jumana Musa, advocacy director of Amnesty International, as saying.