Security personnel enter Millhaven Institution in Bath, Ont., just West of Kingston on Saturday Sept. 29, 2012. Canadian citizen Omar Khadr has landed in Canada and been transferred to Millhaven Institution, after leaving Guantanamo Bay to serve the remainder of his sentence.
Credits: NAM PHI DANG/QMI AGENCY
BATH, Ont. – The scene outside the maximum-security federal prison here on Saturday was eerily, unexpectedly quiet, given the arrival of its latest, most high-profile inmate.
But the silence outside the Millhaven Institution only lasted so long.
Within minutes of a reporter's approaching the prison, correctional services staff appeared from two separate directions, in marked trucks, bearing arms.
“There's been a lot of traffic through here today,” one staff member told QMI Agency, refusing to give his name.
“We're patrolling around to make sure people don't have anything in their cars, and aren't taking pictures. You can't take pictures of the prison.”
After a decade at the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Omar Khadr has returned to Canada, and is now being held at Millhaven. Khadr, 26, was transported aboard a U.S. government aircraft and arrived at CFB Trenton at 7:40 a.m. on Saturday.
He was then transferred to Millhaven, where, barring parole, he will spend the remaining seven years of his eight-year sentence, Public Safety Minister Vic Towes confirmed at a press conference.
Officials from Millhaven Institution refused to comment at the scene outside the facility. They also refused comment over the phone, citing the Privacy Act.
Khadr comes to Canada after agreeing to a plea deal with prosecutors in October 2010 and admitting his responsibility for the death of American Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer.
The plea agreement allowed Khadr to be transferred to Canada for the remainder of his sentence. The agreed-upon sentence was eight years with no credit for time served while in U.S. custody.
Now, under Canadian law, Khadr can apply for parole as early as next summer.
In the meantime, Khadr will stay at Millhaven, one of the toughest prisons in the country. It holds about 400 convicts, 130 of them among the nation's most hardened criminals, held in the notorious J-unit.
It's been dubbed “Guantanamo North” because it once was home to the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, a special six-bed unit that held non-Canadians arrested as part of the war on terror and held without charge on controversial “security certificates.”
That unit was closed without fanfare late last year.
Millhaven opened in 1971 in a rush to make room for inmates from Kingston Penitentiary following the infamous riots that had bloodied the walls there days earlier.
Since then, it has been the site of at least three controversial prisoner deaths.
In the past two years, eight inmate assaults have taken place at the institution.
There has been one assault on a staff member, one inmate killed by a fellow inmate, two major lockdowns and five instances of drug seizures, either from inmates or visitors.