Credits: REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool
OTTAWA – Omar Khadr will be eligible to apply for parole as early as next spring.
But one of his Canadian lawyers, Brydie Bethell, said it's not yet clear the former Guantanamo Bay detainee will seek a conditional release from the National Parole Board that quickly.
“Whether or not he will avail himself of that opportunity, I simply can't tell you because his energies have been completely monopolized by coming home,” she said Saturday.
In a brief statement to media, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews underscored that Khadr,26, a Canadian citizen who pleaded guilty in 2010 to murder and terrorism-related charges, is now the responsibility of
Canada's prison system.
Carissima Mathen, an associate professor of law at the University of Ottawa, said Khadr “has the right in law to apply for parole, but he doesn't have the right to get it.”
She noted the parole board has a number of issues to weigh when choosing to allow the conditional release of any Canadian inmate, including whether he has expressed remorse or an understanding of his offences, the degree to which he has accepted the consequences of his actions, his prospects of reintegration and his risk to society.
If Khadr choses not to seek parole, or if his request is refused, he will nonetheless walk free after Oct. 30, 2018, when his sentence ends.
“On Oct. 31, the default position is that Omar Khadr is free to live where he wants, do what he wants, within the bounds of the law, of course,” said Mathen.
“There are very few options in law to control him at that point.”
Canada repatriated Khadr Saturday morning after he spent a decade as an inmate in the U.S. naval base in Cuba, following his capture in 2002 during a firefight in Afghanistan.