GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — A former U.S. Army combat medic testified Monday that he once found Canadian teen captive Omar Khadr chained by the arms to the door of a five-foot-square cage at a U.S. lock-up in Afghanistan, hooded and weeping.
The medic, identified in court only as Mr. M, said Khadr's wrists were chained just above eye-level, but were slack enough to allow Khadr's feet to touch the floor. He could not remember whether Khadr's feet were also shackled.
When he pulled the hood from Khadr's head, the teenager declared through tears that he would no longer help detention center soldiers by translating the words of other captives.
"This was the one time that I saw Mr. Khadr not very cordial," he said, describing the captive as "scared and frustrated," but "no stronger or weaker than any other detainee in that position."
Pentagon prosecutors called M, who treated Khadr's injuries twice daily in Afghanistan until Khadr was transferred to Guantanamo, to defend Khadr's treatment as humane. M's testimony, however, was the first by a government witness to corroborate a portion of an affidavit Khadr drew up describing abusive treatment.
One of Khadr's lawyers, Barry Coburn, called M's testimony "critically important validation" of Khadr's affidavit.
"Had this been an American soldier in North Korea," said another defense lawyer, Kobie Flowers, "people would be outraged. Here we have a 15-year-old individual who was nearly killed with bullets in his back who was left up there to hang as punishment."
M said he didn't object to Khadr's treatment because chaining was an approved form of punishment at the Bagram Air Base detention center, adding that he didn't know the reason for the punishment or how long Khadr had been chained.
M's testimony came on the fifth day of a hearing on whether Khadr's alleged confession should be barred from his scheduled military commission trial in the July 2002 death of a U.S. serviceman in Afghanistan from a grenade Khadr allegedly threw.
Khadr's lawyers say the Toronto-born teen's statements were the result of his abusive treatment.
Prosecutors argue that he voluntarily admitted to interrogators that he threw the grenade that killed U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, 28, a Special Forces medic who was part of a combat team assaulting a suspected al-Qaida compound. They're seeking a sentence of life in prison.