Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Review urged in 'war crimes' case

Two Australian soldiers executed for war crimes in 1902 may not have had a fair trial, the country says

Australia is asking Britain to look again at the convictions of two Australian soldiers who were executed more than a century ago for war crimes in South Africa, saying they had probably been denied fair trials under the UK military justice system.

The intervention comes after the UK Government rejected in June a petition to pardon Lieutenants Harry "Breaker" Morant and Peter Handcock, who in 1902 became the only Australian soldiers ever executed for war crimes.

They had admitted to shooting 12 prisoners during the Boer War.

Attorney general Robert McClelland told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio that he would write to the British government outlining alleged defects in the court martial system that would make the convictions void.

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