TORONTO - Lawyers acting for the widow of an American special forces soldier have filed an application in Canada seeking to enforce a massive U.S. damages award against former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, Omar Khadr.
The application comes amid word the federal government is set to pay the Toronto-born Khadr $10.5 million and apologize to him to settle his long-running lawsuit for breaching his rights.
The filing in Ontario Superior Court, obtained by The Canadian Press, also says the applicants might ask for an order blocking Ottawa from paying Khadr any compensation. Alternatively, it wants any government money flowing to Khadr to go instead to relatives of Sgt. Chris Speer and retired U.S. sergeant Layne Morris.
Filed on June 8, the application seeks a declaration recognizing a US$134.1-million default judgment against Khadr from Utah in June 2015 and an order that he pay the money. It also asks for another US$900,000 in legal and other costs plus accrued interest.
The unproven application has not been advanced since its filing, according to Toronto-based lawyer David Winer, and no hearing date has been set.
"There's nothing pending right now," Winer said on Wednesday.
Winer, who refused further comment, said he had not heard anything from Khadr's Edmonton-based lawyer, Dennis Edney, who also refused to discuss the case.
The application was filed on behalf of relatives of Speer, who was killed in Afghanistan in July 2002 during a fierce firefight in which Khadr, then 15 years old, was captured badly wounded. Retired U.S. sergeant Layne Morris, who was blinded in one eye during the same battle, is a co-applicant.
American authorities accused Khadr of throwing the grenade that killed Speer — an allegation that became one of the five war crimes to which he pleaded guilty before a much maligned military commission in Guantanamo Bay in 2010.
Khadr, now on bail pending an appeal of his U.S. conviction, has said he admitted to killing Speer and to the other purported war crimes only as a way out of the infamous prison in Cuba given that he could have been held indefinitely even if acquitted.
"Regardless of Khadr's confession at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the evidence tendered at the military commission from other witnesses established that Khadr was the only live person found at the compound capable of launching the grenade which killed SFC Speer and injured SFC Morris," the document states.
In fact evidence before the commission showed American forces found a second person alive in the rubble, and that Morris was hit well before Speer was killed.
The document also notes Khadr apologized to Speer's widow Tabitha and Morris "thus further admitting his guilt."
Khadr, who was at the time in prison in Canada, did not defend against the Utah lawsuit, which was based almost entirely on the proceedings at Guantanamo Bay.
Legal experts have said it would be difficult to enforce the American judgment given, among other things, its heavy reliance on the commission. Courts here are statute barred from enforcing foreign judgments that offend Canada's public policy, and the Supreme Court has found the Guantanamo system contrary to Canadians' concept of justice.
Neither Morris nor his American lawyer Don Winder returned calls seeking comment.