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From: Steve Becker
Time: 12:47:04 PM
Remote Name: 220.127.116.11
By the limited response to the sequence of events at Fort Edward, I gather you agree with them?
Perhaps now is the time to expel a number of untruths circulated by those defending Morants crimes.
The Witness for the Prosecution.
Much has been made of the inclusion of ex Captain Robertson and SgtMaj Morrison in the trial, this is plainly shown by the movie which is taken from Denton's book. The truth is they never APPEARED at the TRIAL of Morant and Handcock. Both Robertson and Morrison were reluctantly taken as witness by Maj Bolton (who didn't like or trust them). They were witness against Capt Taylor in his trial of Shooting six Boers. None testified against Morant! So the innuendo of the movie is false, as the book is with facts that are not true.
That Cpl Sharp appeared only as a witness against Morant and Handcock during the trial which covered the death of Rev Hesse. Sharp was a bad soldier (but worked as a detective is civilian life), which was known by the defence and prosecution, but he could show there was a conversation between the two officers before Handcock rode off. This was not disputed by Maj Thomas so attacking him did little to help their case. In either way the two were found not guilty of the crime of killing Hesse anyway so his part is mute.
Was it because they were English that Denton choose to put them in or was it because they reinforced our perception that the trial was a sham?
We never discussed the other prosecution witness which included many of the Australian soldiers serving with Morant. Not all of them are criminals or are you saying they were.
There were a number of points brought up by Barry Caligari when we exchanged views, which I never answered.
His point about the trial of Taylor. Many of you don't know how the trials were conducted so I'll give you another list.
After the Courts of Inquiry there were now only six officers on trial.
1. The Case of the Death of Visser started 16 January 1902 with Morant, Handcock,Witton and Picton;
2. The Trial of Maj Leneham started 21 January 1902;
3. The Case of Eight Boers Shot started 2 February 1902 Morant,Handcock and Witton;
4. The Case of Three Boers Shot started 5 February 1902 Morant and Handcock;
5. The Trial of Capt Taylor in Shooting Six Boers started 7 February 1902 and
6. The Case of the Death of Rev Hesse started 17 February 1902.
Yes I can see he could have come to trial earlier, but we should remember that the main case was against Morant who took precedence over Taylor. Also Taylor was a witness for Morant in the trial of the death of Visser as was Maj Leneham. In any case Taylor was found "Not Guilty", not because of the three-month rule, but because he never directly ordered the shootings of these particular Boers!
Next Col Hall, I have spoken about him and exactly what did he know? In all cases Col hall is mentioned only a few times, and that in relation to being informed about the shootings at Fort Edward and his non appearence at the trial would have confirmed Morants story?
False! Col Hall knew only in so much as he was told. The reports from Morant to Maj Leneham, who passed them to Hall never mentioned the shootings of prisoners, so how could he do anything about it? As for Lt Neel and Picton's visit after the death of Visser, Leneham testified telling Hall of Vissers death but how was it worded by the two officers to Leneham and Leneham to Hall. Since there was no action by these officers does that mean it is condoned and gave Morant a free hand to committ other outragers.
Also to say Hall wasn't at the trial is not true either, Hall was represented by Maj Beatson, Staff officer to Col Hall. He like Leneham denied knowing of any order to shoot prisoners and knowing of the shootings at Fort Edward, so what would Hall have said? This is just another red herrings put out by those who feel Morant was hard done by.
Perhaps we should mention Morants knowledge of the order to shot prisoners. We agree that Capt Hunt passed on an order to shoot prisoners, but you should also agree that this order was never carried out by anyone at Fort Edward while Hunt was there! Yes Morant was rebuked for bringing them in as did Lt Picton, Capt Taylor and Sgt Gray. All testified to being rebuked by Hunt along the lines of "having no food to feed them", but no one shot any of these prisoners so how did this order work at Fort Edward? Of cause in the movie as shown in a number of books Morant did know the difference between the order to shoot prisoners and those caught wearing khaki. He plainly said this in the discussion between officers before shooting Visser, did he forget that in the trial or maybe Witton as others did?
Lastly I should clear up the point of a sham trial by kitchener. The officers chosen, which changed a number of times during the trial. This was because it was lengthy and the officers had other duties, not because Kitchener thought they were leaning towards the defence. These men were drawn from the garrison around Pietersburg and were serving line officers, some knew or worked with the accused. None travelled from Kitcheners HQ to sit at the trial!
All officers in the Boer War as in WWI were seconded to Court martials. There was a rostor system so officers called could be sent from there units. Cases could be heard for anything from AWOL to theft or murder. The rank of the trial officers depended on the rank of the accused, in their case Maj Leneham was the senior officer charged so the head of the court had to be higher in rank, the other officers could be lower or a simular rank.
If the trial was rigged, why was the sentences of all to received, get pleas for mercy from the court, is that the work of someone trying to convict you? Was the "Not Guilty" verdicts in the Hesse case "fair". So was the trial impartial of Kitchener or not? That the pleas were not followed only shows they were not agreed to not to fixing! You should read why they were not to find out.