A US judge has ordered former Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr, who was released this spring after 13 years in detention, to pay $134.2 million in damages to an injured American soldier and the widow of an army sergeant who was killed in a firefight in Afghanistan.
A federal judge in Utah handed down the decision by default on June 8 because Khadr never responded to the suit, which the plaintiffs say was more about making a statement than collecting money. Lawyers are nevertheless looking for help from a Canadian law firm to get the money from Khadr.
Laura Tanner, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told the Associated Press on Thursday the judgment signals that the civil justice system in the US holds terrorists accountable.
The lawsuit sought damages for US soldier Layne Morris' injuries and the wrongful death of Sergeant Christopher Speer.
Khadr, a 28-year-old Canadian, was captured by American forces in Afghanistan in 2002, when he was 15, and sent to Guantanamo Bay, where he was imprisoned for 10 years. In 2010, he confessed to throwing a grenade that partially blinded Morris and killed Speer. He claims that confession was false and obtained under torture. Khadr was transferred to an Edmonton, Alberta prison in 2012.
He was granted bail in May pending the appeal of his conviction before a US military tribunal, and is living with his lawyer in Edmonton.
Human rights groups and activists claim Khadr was a brainwashed child soldier during his time with al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and should not have been treated as a terrorist.
Khadr's lawyer has filed a $20-million lawsuit against the Canadian government for wrongful imprisonment. His lawyer did not immediately respond to VICE News' request for comment.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.