GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — A judge sentenced a former teenage al-Qaida fighter Sunday to eight more years in custody, bound by a plea agreement that compelled him to ignore a military jury that said he should serve 40 years for war crimes that included the killing of an American soldier.
Omar Khadr's sentencing brings to an end a case that attracted intense scrutiny and criticism because the Canadian prisoner was 15 when he was captured, badly wounded after a fierce firefight at an al-Qaida compound in Afghanistan in 2002.
Khadr stared straight ahead and appeared relaxed as the judge read a sentence that calls for him to stay one more year in Guantanamo before he can ask the Canadian government to allow him to return to his homeland to serve the remainder of his sentence or seek early release on parole. He has been held eight years at Guantanamo but doesn't get credit for time served.
The jury of military officers deliberated nearly nine hours over two days and had not been told that a sealed plea deal would mean that their decision would be largely symbolic.
Military prosecutors, who had portrayed the now 24-year-old Khadr as a dangerous terrorist, had asked the seven-member jury for a sentence of 25 years — and the accused could have received up to life in prison if convicted of even one of the five war crimes counts against him.