updated 10/24/2008 8:26:49 PM ET 2008-10-25T00:26:49

A military judge at Guantanamo Bay on Friday postponed the trial of a Canadian charged with killing a U.S. soldier, throwing the entire proceeding into doubt because the new start date comes after the next U.S. president takes office.

Barack Obama and John McCain have both vowed to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay if elected president. Obama, the Democratic candidate, wants to do away with the war-crimes courts. McCain, a Republican, has supported the tribunals but wants Canadian and U.S. officials to resolve the fate of Omar Khadr.

Khadr, of Toronto, was 15 when he allegedly killed Delta Force soldier Chris Speer of Albuquerque, N.M., with a grenade during a firefight in Afghanistan 2002. The son of an al-Qaida figure, Khadr was seriously wounded in the battle.

The judge, Army Col. Patrick Parrish, set a Jan. 26 trial date to allow time for a psychologist for the defense to obtain a security clearance and assess Khadr.

Marine Maj. Jeffrey Groharing, leader of the prosecution team, had urged the judge to deny the request by Khadr's lawyers for a delay, accusing them of undertaking "extensive efforts to avoid going to trial and ... seeking a political resolution of this case."

"The defense simply does not want to go to trial and the latest request only reinforces that fact," Groharing complained. But the judge granted the delay. The trial had been scheduled to start on Nov. 10.

To date, only one trial has been completed at the U.S. military base in Cuba.

Salim Hamdan, who was Osama bin Laden's driver, was found guilty of supporting terrorism and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison. With time served, he is eligible for release by January. In March 2007, Australian David Hicks, charged with supporting terrorism, reached a plea agreement that sent him home to serve a nine-month prison sentence. He is now free in Australia.

Of Guantanamo's approximately 255 prisoners, most of whom are suspected of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban, 18 stand charged with war crimes.

The only trial besides Khadr's that is currently scheduled is for Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al-Bahlul, an alleged al-Qaida propaganda chief. That trial is to begin on Monday.

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