A drawing by artist Janet Hamlin, reviewed by the US military, shows young Canadian captive, Omar Khadr, who is accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan in July 2002, as his lead defense counsel, Navy Lieutenant Commander William Kuebler, addresses the judge, Army Colonel Pat Parrish at a pre-trial session at the Guantanamo Bay naval base December 12, 2008.
Credits: REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Tuesday he will decide in good time if and when Toronto-born Khadr can return home to finish his sentence for murdering a U.S. Army medic in Afghanistan.
"I put the safety of Canadians first," he said. "A decision will be made on this file, as on all applications, in due course."
The Conservatives were in the firing line from opposition parties, who accuse the Tories of trying to back out of a commitment they made with the U.S. government a year ago to allow Khadr to return to Canada after serving a year of his eight year sentence.
"This fellow was arrested when he was 14-years-old and held since then and ought to have the benefit of Canadian laws," said NDP justice critic Jack Harris.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae also called on the government to repatriate Khadr, who is currently being held in the U.S. detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
As of Monday, he had served a year of his sentence.
In a diplomatic note released during Khadr's trial last year, Canada said it was "inclined to favourably consider" his transfer application.
The bureaucratic process to repatriate Khadr began a few weeks ago. The federal government said the prisoner transfer process takes an average of 18 months.