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Defense Attorney Illness Delays Guantanamo Trial

The first war crimes trial of the Obama administration has been put on hold for at least a month as the defense attorney seeks medical treatment.

Army Lieutenant Colonel Jon Jackson collapsed during testimony Thursday during the trial of Omar Khadr, a Canadian native who is alleged to have thrown a grenade that killed an American soldier in Afghanistan. Khadr was 15 years old at the time of the 2002 incident.

The military says Jackson will be flown out of Cuba for treatment for complications of recent gall bladder surgery.

Prosecutors at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, say Khadr is a terrorist trained by al-Qaida, while the defense says he was a scared boy who was coerced into giving a false confession. Khadr, who has pleaded not guilty to charges that include murder, faces a life sentence if convicted.

In opening statements Thursday, prosecutor Jeff Groharing told a jury of seven U.S. military officers that Khadr said that when he first arrived at Guantanamo, he said that thinking about killing an American would make him feel better.

But Jackson said Khadr only told interrogators what they wanted to hear. He said the then-teenager was at the al-Qaida compound where he was detained because his father, an alleged terrorist financier with close ties to Osama bin Laden, sent him there.

The defense argues that interrogators coerced admissions of guilt from Khadr through torture and fear, including suggestions that he would be raped.

The United Nations special envoy for children in armed conflicts, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has warned that Khadr's trial could set a dangerous precedent by allowing children to face prosecution for war crimes. She says child soldiers must be treated as victims and given a chance for rehabilitation.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.