GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — A former U.S. Army interrogator known to captives in Afghanistan as "The Monster" testified Wednesday that he felt sorry for the gravely wounded Canadian teenager whom American troops had recently captured because "he was probably in one of the worst places on Earth."
"He was in the wrong place for a 15-year-old child to be," former Army Spc. Damien Corsetti told a military commission hearing here over a video feed from Arlington, Va.
Corsetti, who was acquitted by a U.S. court martial of charges that he'd abused prisoners in Afghanistan, was the first witness called by Khadr's lawyers, who are trying to persuade a military judge to exclude all of the Toronto-born captive's confessions from his likely military commission trial in the 2002 death of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan.
The attorneys argue that all of Khadr's statements must be considered inadmissible because the conditions in which he was held amounted to abuse. Prosecutors argue that his statements were voluntary and that he was well cared for in captivity.
Corsetti said he first encountered Khadr during an intelligence interview at a U.S. field hospital at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan on July 29, 2002. He'd been shot twice in the back and had suffered shrapnel wounds to his eyes.
Corsetti's account contradicted earlier witnesses. Col. Donna Hershey, who was the head nurse at Bagram at the time, told the court that she didn't permit interrogations at her hospital, and a decorated Army master sergeant who testified anonymously on Tuesday said that he observed Khadr's first interrogation on Aug. 12, after Khadr had been moved to the prison facility from the hospital.