Wednesday, August 24, 2011

1902 War Crimes Trial May Go Back to Court

The war crimes trial of three soldiers over a century ago is back in the spotlight in Australia. The families of three men, who believe they were not given a fair trial, are seeking judicial review of the case.

In 1902, during the Boer War, the three men were court-martialed after twelve unarmed civilians were killed over a period of four days because the commanding officer was killed and his body was mutilated. The families of these men argue that they did not have the opportunity to consult with a lawyer until right before the court-martial, they were denied the right to appeal, and they were kept in solitary confinement for three months.

An Australian military lawyer, James Unkles, is leading the effort to post-humously pardon these men. He believes the soldiers were scapegoats used to cover up certain orders given by Lord Kitchener, the commander of the British forces in South Africa, not to take prisoners.