An Edmonton educator who has spent nearly two years tutoring Omar Khadr says the prisoner should be given the chance to re-enter society and that her institution would welcome him as a student.
“I think he is a young man who stands a very good chance of making a significant positive contribution to Canadian life,” said Arlette Zinck, an English professor at King’s University College.
For the past 22 months, Zinck has tutored the 26-year-old during his detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba after he plead guilty to killing a U.S. soldier during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan.
As part of his guilty plea, Khadr was brought back into the country Saturday to serve his term in a Canadian prison. Under Canadian law, he is eligible for parole next summer.
Zinck says Khadr’s chaotic early years and family life mean he has not been allowed much formal education.
She says during their time in Cuba, Khadr was a good student and has talked about wanting to continue education after he is released.
“That’s been his heart’s desire since his earliest days in captivity,” she said.
“He is a very capable and very appreciative student who desires to learn in a more traditional setting. “
Students support idea
In an e-mail to CBC News, King's Vice President of Institutional Advancement Dan VanKeeken, wrote "once his prison term is over, if he decided to apply to King's we would treat him as any other applicant. " In 2010, during his sentencing, Khadr said he would “be honoured” to attend the university and said he hoped someday to go into medicine.
Many students on the King’s campus were supportive of the idea of Khadr applying to the school.
“If he serves his time, he could be like anyone else and come to King’s, if he wants,” said music student Anthony Madel.
He says he has questions about the legal process in Khadr’s case, and that education might help him reintegrate into society.
“Everyone needs second chances … King’s is a great place to start anew.”
Zinck says she’s confident Canadians will be able to “restore and reconcile” Khadr if he is allowed parole.
“I have great confidence that Canadians will give him the opportunity to prove, through his actions, who he really is.”