Omar Khadr ignores his victims, a grieving widow and blinded soldier
Tabitha Speer (left) is the widow of Sgt. Chris Speer and forme Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr. (THE CANADIAN PRESS Photos)
How insulting they are to a woman widowed and a soldier blinded.
On news of the shocking $10.5 million payout to Omar Khadr, secretly delivered before any chance of their seeking an injunction, the Salt Lake City lawyer for Tabitha Speer and Layne Morris sent a polite letter last Friday to his Canadian counterparts.
“We respect the fact Mr. Khadr was interred for a decade in Guantanamo Bay, and the Canadian government has agreed to issue an apology and settle his claims,” wrote attorney Donald Winder. “We also respect the fact you and Mr. Khadr’s other lawyers have invested substantial time and expense on Mr. Khadr’s behalf.
“However,” he continued, “Mr. Khadr’s actions, which led him to Guantanamo Bay, were the death of Christopher Speer, leaving Mrs. Speer a widow and (her two children) fatherless, and blinding Layne Morris in one eye.”
The most important paragraph came at the end: “We ask Mr. Khadr (to) do the right thing and accept responsibility for his actions and the pain he caused the Speer family and Layne Morris,” Winder concluded. “We desire to talk about an equitable settlement of the judgment against Mr. Khadr.”
The default judgment against Khadr was issued by a U.S. District Court in Utah two years ago, awarding Morris and the Speer family $134 million (US) in damages for the then-15-year-old’s deadly actions during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan.
“This was the day my world collapsed,” Speer’s widow said in her heartbreaking claim. “Part of me died with him.”
This is the woman who doesn’t even merit a response.
Khadr mounted no defence to their lawsuit — he had been transferred to a Canadian prison at the time and none of his Canadian lawyers travelled to Utah. So the judge based his decision on the former inmate’s 2010 confession to five war crime charges during his military trial in Gitmo, including pleading guilty to lobbing the grenade that killed the U.S. Delta Force medic.
At the time of the civil judgment, though, Khadr had already retracted his confession and was appealing his convictions. As for collecting on the multi-million dollar award, the newly-released prisoner was on parole in Edmonton with not a penny to his name.
Thanks to the Liberal government, that has dramatically changed.
As hard as it is to stomach, some kind of settlement to Khadr was inevitable after the country’s highest court twice reprimanded Ottawa for doing nothing to protect the Charter rights of the Toronto-born teen while he was being detained in inhumane conditions at the notorious Guantanamo Bay.
But given the national outrage, if not for optics alone, you’d think the suddenly flush-Khadr and his lawyers would at least be sensitive to the people who still believe he’s responsible for their pain and suffering.
In his letter Friday, the lawyer for Speer and Morris requested a response from Khadr’s team by the close of business this past Monday. They didn’t even have the decency to reply.
So both sides will be in Ontario Superior court in Toronto on Thursday, fighting over what should happen to Khadr’s windfall. Lawyers for Speer and Morris want an immediate freeze on Khadr’s assets until an Ontario court ultimately rules on their application to have the American civil judgment enforced here.
They’re concerned Khadr has already sheltered the cash.
Khadr lawyer Nate Whitling will argue that they haven’t proven the need for such an injunction: they’re depending on media “hearsay” to suggest the new millionaire plans to hide his money and there’s no evidence he’s funnelling the funds to any “nefarious activity.”
It will be up to the courts to decide. But in the court of public opinion, Khadr continues to lose.
In interviews released to coincide with the announcement, Khadr, now 30, insisted he wants to be normal and prove that he’s a good Canadian citizen.
He’s already failed his first test. A good start would have been to not ignore a grieving widow — even if you insist you’re not responsible for her loss.