Canadian's 'confessions' allowed at Guantanamo trial

Courtroom sketch of Omar Khadr, top, at preliminary hearing on 9 August 2010 Omar Khadr faces life imprisonment if convicted by the jury of officers

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Alleged confessions of the last Westerner being held at Guantanamo Bay can be heard at his trial, a US military judge has ruled.

Lawyers for Canadian Omar Khadr had argued that the statements had been extracted under duress.

Mr Khadr, who was 15 when he was captured by US troops in Afghanistan, is accused of killing a US soldier in 2002, which he denies.

His trial is due to begin before a jury of military officers at the US base.

It is the first contested trial to take place at Guantanamo Bay under President Barack Obama - who had pledged to close the detention camp by January this year.

In Mr Khadr's last preliminary hearing on Monday, military Judge Patrick Parrish decided to allow the alleged confessions to feature in the trial.

Mr Khadr's lawyer, US Army Lt Col Jon Jackson, had argued that the statements were obtained through inhumane treatment including indirect threats of rape and death.

However prosecutors said that, according to FBI and US naval intelligence agents, Mr Khadr had spoken to them freely.

Mr Khadr, 23, who was born in Toronto, has already pleaded not guilty to charges including murder, conspiracy and support of terrorism. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

Canada has declined to intervene in Mr Khadr's trial, despite High Court rulings in Ottawa that his rights were violated when Canadian agents interrogated him at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

Mr Khadr's Canadian lawyer, Dennis Edney, said the tribunal was rigged to convict him.

The BBC's Steve Kingstone in Washington says Guantanamo Bay is a continuing embarrassment for President Obama who promised to shut it down.

His pledge has been delayed by a mixture of judicial and political wrangling.

More than 170 men are still being held at the camp - of whom Omar Khadr is the youngest.

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