Martin ex­presses re­gret about Khadr

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

HAL­I­FAX - For­mer prime min­is­ter Paul Martin said he thinks a fed­eral pay­out to Omar Khadr could have been avoided had Ot­tawa han­dled the sit­u­a­tion dif­fer­ently from the start. Speak­ing af­ter re­ceiv­ing an award in Hal­i­fax, Martin told The Cana­dian Press he wishes Ot­tawa had taken a dif­fer­ent ap­proach in the early stages of the Khadr case, but his own gov­ern­ment had to work with the hand it had been dealt. “I think it was a sit­u­a­tion that was not well han­dled by a suc­ces­sion of gov­ern­ments, and I think ob­vi­ously hind­sight demon­strates that,” Martin said in a phone in­ter­view Thurs­day. “Un­for­tu­nately, we con­tin­ued with the prece­dent that had been es­tab­lished by ... pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments, and cer­tainly one could ar­gue that more could have been done at that stage, and I wish it had been.”

In 2002, the Cana­dian-born Khadr was im­pris­oned in the no­to­ri­ous U.S. de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity in Guan­tanamo, Cuba, ac­cused of killing an Amer­i­can sol­dier/medic dur­ing a fire­fight in Afghanistan at the age of 15. Martin, who be­came prime min­is­ter in late 2003 af­ter serv­ing in the pre­vi­ous Lib­eral cab­i­net, said he feels the Khadr case was on track for a fed­eral set­tle­ment by the time he came to power.

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