Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Canadian defendant Omar Khadr attends a hearing in the courthouse at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base on Thursday.

Janet Hamlin/Reuters

Omar Khadr, then a gravely wounded 15-year-old, was routinely trussed up in a cage "in one of the worst places on Earth," according to a hulking former military interrogator nicknamed Monster who says he felt sorry for the Canadian and brought him books and treats.

Former specialist Damien Corsetti was testifying via video link to a pretrial hearing in the war-crimes trial of Mr. Khadr, now 23, on charges of terrorism and murder in the killing of a U.S. Special Forces soldier during a firefight in eastern Afghanistan in July of 2002.

"We could do basically anything to scare the prisoners,'' Mr. Corsetti said, adding that detainees were often chained in stress positions in cages and that constant screaming and yelling filled the Bagram prison. He also said beating prisoners was banned but they could be threatened with nightmarish scenarios like clandestine transfer to Israel or Egypt where they would disappear.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Corsetti was the first defence witness called at the hearing.

"More than anything, he looked beat up,'' Mr. Corsetti said. "He was a 15-year-old kid with three holes in his body, a bunch of shrapnel in his face.'' Bagram guards and interrogators dubbed him Buckshot Bob. Mr. Corsetti said he sometimes took pity on the English-speaking teenager, occasionally chatting with him about fast cars.

He was never one of Mr. Khadr's interrogators.

Mr. Corsetti later faced multiple charges of detainee abuse but was acquitted. He now describes himself as a disabled veteran being treated for post-traumatic-stress disorder.

Defence lawyers are seeking to have Mr. Khadr's confessions at Bagram and Guantanamo kept out of the trial, claiming interrogators coerced them from a tortured and abused child soldier.

The prosecution contends Mr. Khadr was an unlawful combatant who freely and voluntarily confessed to killing Sergeant Christopher Speer with a grenade and boasted of building roadside bombs, being an al-Qaeda fighter and seeking to kill as many Jews and Americans as possible.

Meanwhile, it emerged that information extracted by Canadian spies who interrogated Mr. Khadr in Guantanamo may be used against him, despite Ottawa's belated efforts to have it suppressed.

Story continues below advertisement

The Obama administration has rejected Ottawa's request to suppress information that Canadian Security and Intelligence Service agents and Foreign Affairs officials elicited from Mr. Khadr during interrogations in 2003 and 2004.

Nathan Whitling, one of Mr. Khadr's Canadian lawyers who argued his case before Canada's Supreme Court, said the "U.S. refusal of Canada's request confirms its status as an outlaw among the community of nations.''

After the Canadian Supreme Court ruling that successive Canadian governments had failed to safeguard Mr. Khadr's rights, the Harper government - in a formal diplomatic note - pleaded with the Obama administration to block use of the information furnished by the Canadian agents to their U.S. counterparts.

In its written response, the U.S. government declined, saying it was up to the military judge to decide what evidence he allowed.

However, it's not clear from Justice Minister Rob Nicholson's letter whether he believes the Obama administration's changes to the Bush-era military tribunals still operating at Guantanamo makes them legal.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court found the conditions of Mr. Khadr's imprisonment at Guantanamo when he was interrogated by CSIS agents "constituted a clear violation of Canada's international human rights obligations.''

Story continues below advertisement



Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies