Former PM Paul Martin expresses regret about early phases of Khadr case

Former prime minister Paul Martin says he thinks a $10.5-million federal payout to Omar Khadr could have been avoided had Ottawa dealt with the situation differently from the start.

Speaking after receiving an award in Halifax, Martin told The Canadian Press he feels the Khadr case was not handled well by a succession of governments.

In 2002, the Canadian-born Khadr was imprisoned in the notorious U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo, Cuba, accused of killing an American soldier/medic during a firefight in Afghanistan at the age of 15.

Martin, who became prime minister in late 2003 after serving in the previous Liberal cabinet, says he wishes Ottawa had taken a different approach in the early stages of the Khadr case, and says his own government followed the precedent set by its predecessors.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2010 that Canadian authorities violated Khadr's charter rights when they interrogated him there, despite the fact he was a minor, had no legal representation and had been tortured.

Khadr subsequently launched a $20-million civil suit against the Canadian government. 

That was settled  in July when the government agreed to pay him $10.5 million rather than pursue what officials said would have been a costly court battle that the government had no hope of winning.