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article imageOp-Ed: Three current trials for mass murder worlds apart

By Alexander Baron     May 8, 2012 in Crime
Two self-confessed mass murderers are currently standing trial in the Western hemisphere: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Anders Behring Breivik. But how many people realise there is a third - a military tribunal - currently in progress?
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Anders Behring Breivik have two things in commons: they are both self-confessed mass murderers - Breivik by his own hand - and they are the latest in a long line of non-entities who believe the indiscriminate mass murder of innocent people can make the world a better place.
The mass murders were not indiscriminate in their own eyes; for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Americans are a bona fide target anywhere they are found, while the many non-Americans, including Moslems, who died in the September 11 attacks were simply “collateral damage”, to use that terrible phrase. For Breivik, the young people he murdered were collaborators with not simply the real Islamist menace but with what he sees as the Islamisation of Europe.
The contrast in the treatment of the two men has been stark. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was arrested in Pakistan on March 1, 2003, and handed over to the American military authorities. On the admission of his gaolers, he has been subjected to torture, in particular waterboarding.
There is a general revulsion at the use of torture in the civilised West, and confessions extracted under torture or any form of serious oppression are excluded routinely from criminal trials, not simply because they are the fruit of the poisonous tree, but because of this revulsion, and also because we realise that under torture, many people will confess to anything. Even without torture, a confession to any crime should not be enough in itself to result in a conviction. Consider the following, which is extracted from the 1975 book Why Men Confess, by O. John Rogge:
In 1662, Issobell Gowdie confessed to renouncing her baptism to the Devil and being baptised in his name. She said she had killed more than half a dozen people. She and her accomplices had sexual relations with the Devil and he was “abler for them sexually than any man could be. His members were exceeding great and long, but he was as heavy as a sack of malt and as cold as ice.”
She travelled with the Devil in the shape of a cat and a crow, among others.
Gowdie's confession was entirely voluntary, and lasted for four days, it was also corroborated by her accomplice, Janet Breadheid, who confirmed her story about killing all the male children of the Laird of Parkis by roasting clay images of them.
What is nearly as revolting as the treatment meted out to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - who is still to be presumed innocent - is the kidnapping and indefinite detention of many other men, some of whom have likewise been tortured, and a few have committed suicide. Most of these men have committed no crime at all, but they have been denied justice, and any sort of compensation for the years they have spent locked in cages and treated like animals.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and another alleged Al-Qaeda terrorist, Waleed Bin Attash, are currently doing their best to sabotage the much delayed proceedings against them, and their lawyers have been making legitimate protests about the way they have been treated. It is incredible to think that in the wake of 9/11 the American legal system has lost the moral highground to someone as odious as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who, if convicted, faces a certain death sentence.
The way the Norwegian authorities have handled the case of Anders Breivik can hardly have been more different. There is no suggestion that Breivik has been tortured, and he has been brought to trial as speedily as could have been expected. Having said that, the circumstances of his crimes are in no doubt. The only thing for the police to ascertain was the possibility of any collaborators; this was quickly ruled out, although certain odious agenda driven special interest groups, including here in Britain, have done their level best to smear their political opponents with guilt by association.
Although he has of course been held under intense security, Breivik's trial is being conducted openly and transparently in the presence of the world media. Cameras have been excluded at certain points, but only in order to avoid giving this self-confessed mass murderer a platform to make de facto political speeches, and to spare the families of his victims unnecessary suffering.
Breivik's defence is unique if nothing else, from the very beginning he has confessed freely to his crimes, but claims they were committed under duress, out of necessity, and asks that he be acquitted. Is he insane? Clearly he does not live in the same world as the rest of us, because he is a hero in his own eyes, making the supreme sacrifice. He has of course sacrificed his own life along with those of the 77 young people he murdered, but that makes him no more a hero than it made heroes of Mohammad Atta or any of the other self-styled martyrs of 9/11. The only issue to be decided in reality is that of his sanity; many people live in their own little worlds, but perverted values or delusions of grandeur do not a madman make.
The third criminal trial for mass murder is one that has received very little coverage in the mass media. It is, unusual, to say the least. For example, it is selling merchandise - fancy a badge or a T-shirt? Click here and follow the instructions.
The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal was founded by Mahathir bin Mohamad, who served as Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981-2003. Dr Mahathir is admittedly a somewhat off-beat character for so senior a politician, but no one who leads a country for 22 years is to be treated with contempt. The purpose of the tribunal is to criminalise war, which involves “holding perpetrators of war crimes to account for their actions especially when relevant international judicial organs fail to do so”.
Although the tribunal has been hearing evidence for some time, none of the defendants is in the dock. They include: George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Bush has already been convicted of crimes against peace along with his equal partner, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
It goes without saying that this tribunal is not being taken seriously by the Western establishments, and doubtless it has caused a chuckle or two in the corridors of power, but not everyone here is laughing at it, the Stop The War Coalition for example takes any sort of indiscriminate or unjustified military action extremely seriously. And, behind the titters and the smiles of our leaders past and present, there will be a ripple of trepidation that one day the people will rise up and hold them accountable for their crimes.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Anders Behring Breivik, Khalid sheikh mohammed, September 11, Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, Al qaeda
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