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|Court||International Military Tribunal|
|Full case name||International Military Tribunal for the Planet of Notron|
|Date decided||July 25, 2015|
Sir Baldur Ove
|Subsequent action(s)||Creation of the UAN Criminal Court|
Ten death penalty convictions|
Five long prison sentence convictions
|Multiple indictments on the crimes of Conspiracy, Crimes Against Humanity, Crimes Against Peace, and Waging Aggressive Warfare|
|Conspiracy, Crimes Against Humanity, Crimes Against Peace, Waging Aggressive Warfare|
The Vonkouver Trials were a series of trials hosted in Vonkouver, Shops Island after the Liberation of Planet 1984. It was designed to try those who were convicted of committing heinous crimes on the planet of Notron before the liberation. It has widely been regarded as "the most famous trial in Antarctic history".
After Notron (Planet 1984) had been liberated, there was serious work to be done. This was a planet of hundreds of millions, that was absolutely devastated by decades of oppression and subjugation. After the three super-nations of Orwellia, Verpomia and Ouestland had all surrendered, Shopper troops occupied the entire planet. The peoples of Notron were deprived of the necessaries of life. It was obvious that something had to be done; there were people out there that had committed terrible acts against their subjects.
Throughout their campaign, the Shoppers had arrested all soldiers and officials of the occupied territories. They were all either imprisoned or interned. Each one of these people had blood on their flippers. The question became what was to be done with these prisoners.
Many Shoppers and Notroneans wanted immediate revenge; they demanded summary executions of all those involved in the atrocities committed by Orwellia, Verpomia and Ouestland. However, others knew that such actions would not be viable in the long term. Summary executions left the situation open to speculation. It could be interpreted as victors' vengeance, and lead to subsequent protest in the future. So, the other option was a trial. Many who wanted to try those involved demanded that it be done by a Shopper military court. But, there was an obvious problem with this solution as well; such an action would easily be identified as victors' justice by sympathizers and other observers. The court would have to have no bias, and would have to be run by a neutral party. The Shoppers were inspired by the (although mediocre) Pengslo Trials, which were situated in the United Penguin Islands, a firmly neutral country. After much deliberation among the Shopper judicial and military branches, it became agreed that a proper trial was the best way to proceed.
Now that the method of judging the accused was chosen, it was time to choose exactly who was responsible. There were almost one billion people who had either been part of military or the government on Notron. This number was astronomically too high, so it was quickly obvious that trying everyone was impossible. The Shopper government decided that soldiers fighting for their respective countries had no authority over the atrocities committed throughout the decades, and thus were ineligible for trial. But even still, this left millions of government officials, ranging from those in charge, to those working as office employees, still criminally liable. After much deliberation, it was decided that only the top officials of each country would be tried. This narrowed the list down to less than twenty defendants. These people would stand for trial, wherever it was to be held.
The Shoppers had originally wanted to hold the trials in a city on Notron, but this was soon ruled out for two reasons: The first was that holding the trials inside any city inside a former country would indicate bias in or against that country's favor. Any territories that did not belong to Orwellia, Verpomia or Ouestland were devastated far beyond repair. The next suitable option was somewhere in Antarctica. It was eventually decided that the trials would be held in Vonkouver, Shops' largest city, due to its massive courthouse; one of the largest in Antarctica. It also had a maximum-security prison on site, which could be used to house the convicted.
Court Construction and Structure
The original plans for the court called for an exact and rigid model of the Shopper justice system; with a judge, jury, prosecution and defense. The court was originally expected to be under the jurisdiction of the Shops Island Council, but all of these plans had flaws in them, and were changed to be more suitable.
The most glaring problem was that if this trial was to be an exact replica of the Shopper courts, then the judges, juries, and prosecution would all be represented by Shoppers. While many favored this originally, it was clear to those planning the trials that this demonstrated glaring bias in the Shoppers' favor. To prevent this, they knew they would have to reform the system. So, they decided to hand over the job of judging to judges from a third party. Judge Xavier was a popular candidate, but his speech impediment and the fact that he was from the USA, an ally of Shops Island, quickly took him out of favor. The judge from a third party would have to come from a neutral nation. At the time of the trial, the only real "neutral" nation in Antarctica were the United Penguin Islands. So, the Shopper government appealed to the UPI and asked if they would give the Shoppers some judges for the Vonkouver Trials. The UPI agreed, and sent the country's two best judges to Vonkouver; two judges would serve over the proceedings.
Another problem to be addressed was that of the jury. In a normal Shopper system, the jury would be the ones to identify the suspect as guilty or not guilty. However, this would be a problem in the Vonkouver Trials, as the chosen jury would obviously have a very strong pro-Shopper bias. So, instead of tweaking the jury system, it was deemed inefficient and removed altogether. In this trial, the judges would cast the verdict. The only pro-Shopper party would be the prosecution, which was the party pressing charges against the defendants.
Throughout many discussions and negotiations, this system was what was eventually decided upon. The Vonkouver trials would be proceeded over by two judges from a neutral state, there would be no jury, the Shoppers would act as the prosecution, and the Notronean war criminals would be the defendants. After all the details were ironed out, the start date of the Vonkouver Trials was pinned for July 15, 2015.
The Vonkouver Trials were unlike any legal proceedings ever before. The only basis for the trials were the Pengslo Trials, which worked off of Snowinian and Western laws. The Shoppers knew better than this, and knew that a new framework of rules would have to be set up to create a fair trial.
At this point, those being tried were essentially stateless; as the countries of Notron were not recognized by any governing body in Antarctica. This meant that it would be unfair for non-Shoppers to be tried under Shopper law. So, Shops Island came up with its own set of charges based on basically nothing, of which the accused would be indicted upon:
- Charge 1. Conspiracy was the idea of two or more people conspiring to commit an heinous crime against a state, or a society. The organizers of the Vonkouver trials came up with the idea that all actions committed by the accused were a result of a conspiracy to commit horrid acts for their own benefit.
- Charge 2. Crimes Against Humanity was the charge for deliberately degrading the rights and freedoms of peoples as outlined in the UAN's Universal Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the deliberate extermination, torture, killing, and subjugation of peoples for the purposes of the state.
- Charge 3. Crimes Against Peace was the charge of committing war crimes, and actions against civilian and military populations deemed as a breach of "Creature Rights", when done as an act of war.
- Charge 4. Waging Aggressive Warfare was the charge of waging war on nations without "valid reason" and without being provoked by the enemy state beforehand. The crime was essentially the act of conquer and pillage for no purposes other than to gain power, through whatever means it takes.
These charges were agreed upon by the Shopper government and the UPI's judges as acceptable indictments for the accused. Each of the accused would be convicted of between one and all of these charges.
However, there was certainly protest from the defense. Their main argument was that these charges were not set in any international law, nor had it ever been used as a charge before, and were therefore invalid. Sir Garret Placid, Speaker of the House for the Shopper Common Legislature, and one of the main prosecutors at the trials, made this statement in rebuttal:
|“|| Their cries are "You can't do this! Nobody before has been called upon on this crime, therefore there is no basis for this charge!"
In response, I suppose that the first person ever charged with another heinous crime, such as theft or murder, would have had the same reply: "You see here! You can't do that! Theft hasn't been made a crime yet!"
This is what the defendants are essentially arguing. The very idea that institutions or states [in lieu of persons] commit crimes is pure fiction. Crimes can only be committed by people, those who held and exercised great power cannot be allowed to shift the blame onto the inanimate state, which cannot be produced for trial.
— Sir Garret Placid
It was clear to many that this trial was groundbreaking; the Shoppers were trying to bring those to justice by charging them with claims that had never been used before against a defendant.
There were many different parties involved for the trial. Below outlines those who served which roles.
The prosecution was the party that was responsible for pressing charges in the first place. They were the ones that indicted the defense with a number of the four crimes above. Their job was to appeal to the judge to get the desired result.
- Jackson McArdy was the chief prosecutor in the Vonkouver Trials, representing the Shoppers. He was also, at the time, the head of the Shops Island Council, and therefore was technically Shops' chief legal official.
- Sir Garrett Placid was the other prosecutor representing Shops Island. He at the time was also the Speaker of the House in the Shopper Common Legislature.
- Wilson Schmidt was the lead prosecutor representing the Notronean Liberation Movement and the peoples of Notron as a whole. He had become a revolutionary icon in Shops Island and on his home planet throughout the months preceding the trials.
The defense was the party responsible for defending their case against an indictment set upon by the prosecutor. They were the ones convicted of a number of crimes. Their job was to appeal to the judge to have their punishment spared. In a normal court, a guilty verdict would allow for an appeal, but this right was denied in Vonkouver. The raised numbers beside their names indicate the crimes they were indicted with, in correspondence with the section above:
- = Conspiracy
- = Crimes Against Humanity
- = Crimes Against Peace
- = Waging Aggressive Warfare
- The Captain 1 2 3 4 (referred to in the trials as "leader of Orwellia") was the head of the defense representing Orwellia at the Vonkouver Trials. He had led Orwellia with an iron fist for over fifty years, and was directly responsible for ordering many of the atrocities committed by Orwellians. He was also in charge of The Organization, which was the sole ruling party in Orwellia.
- General [William] Grimm 1 2 3 4 was in the defense representing Orwellia. He had been the head general of the Orwellian Armed Forces, and was indicted with countless war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was also in charge of the "Department of Repose", the branch of government responsible for military action.
- Benjamin Sire 1 2 was in the defense representing Orwellia. He was in charge of the "Department of Resourcefulness", which was supposed to be responsible for feeding the people of Orwellia. Instead, he deliberately starved hundreds of millions. Millions more of Orwellians died because of his deliberate starving of the people.
- Byron Malcolm 1 was in the defense representing Orwellia. He had been in charge of the "Department of Reality", which was responsible for propaganda and media in Orwellia. He deliberately misled and brainwashed millions of innocent people.
- Nigel Tracy 1 2 3 was in the defense representing Orwellia. He was the leader of the "Department of Righteousness", and was responsible for the scaring, torture, killing, and internment of millions of citizens.
- Rodney Cornell 1 2 3 4 (tried in Absentia) was in the defense representing Orwellia. He was the head of the Mind Patrol in Orwellia, which was responsible for killing and torturing millions, along with oppressing free speech and thought. He could not be produced for trial as he had gone missing, so he was tried in absentia instead.
- King Svend 1 2 3 4 was the head of the defense representing Verpomia at the Vonkouver trials. He had been king of Verpomia since 1997, although through much of his reign he had been considered to be a puppet ruler.
- General [Karl] Wahnsinn 1 2 3 4 was in the defense representing Verpomia. He was the head of the Verpommian military, and was responsible for unimaginable slaughter and pillage.
- Luitpold Hain 1 2 3 4 was in the defense representing Verpomia. He was considered to be one of the top noblemen in Verpomia, and was responsible for many reprehensible crimes against his people, notably torture and murder.
- Lebrecht Matthaus 1 2 3 4 was in the defense representing Verpomia. He was also one of Verpomia's top noblemen, and was responsible for the killing and torture of millions.
- Siegfried Julius 1 was in the defense representing Verpomia. He was the head of Verpomia's clergy, and was convicted of conspiring to commit crime, along with the brainwashing of hundreds of millions.
- Notre Dirigeant 1 2 3 4 (referred to in the trials as "leader of Ouestland") was the head of the defense representing Ouestland. He had been the staunch ruler of Ouestland, ruling as a fascist totalitarian dictator, and he was responsible for the killing of millions both at home and abroad.
- Pierre Gorgeau 1 2 4 was in the defense representing Ouestland. He was the head of the fascist party in Ouestland, which was responsible for killing millions of those whom the party found "inferior" and undesirable.
- General [Phillipe] Clemanceau 1 2 3 4 was in the defense representing Ouestland. He was Ouestland's top general, and was therefore responsible for savagely killing millions.
- Jean Paul de Mimes 1 2 was in the defense representing Ouestland. He was Ouestland's propaganda minister, and was therefore responsible for brainwashing and controlling the Ouestian masses.
- Georges Roi 1 2 3 4 was in the defense representing Ouestland. He was one of the leaders of Ouestland's revolution from Verpomia, and was responsible for the deaths of millions of both Verpommians and Ouestians during the revolutions.
- Pauvre de L'Argent 1 2 was in the defense representing Ouestland. He was in charge of Ouestland's treasury system, which gave money to the government to fund illegal actions. This money was also acquired by illegal means, mainly by those killed by the government.
There were two judges at the Vonkouver Trials. The judges' job was to make sure the trial proceeded properly, and they were supposed to judge without bias. To prevent bias in judgement, the two judges were from the United Penguin Islands, a neutral nation. The judges were also responsible for sentencing each suspect.
- Hjalmar Torgils was the chief judge for the Vonkouver Trials. He was one of the most important figures during the proceedings. In the UPI, he was the chief justice of the UPI's Supreme Court.
- Sir Baldur Ove was the assistant judge during the trials. He also served on the Supreme Court in the UPI.
The Vonkouver Trials officially began on July 5, 2015. For the first day of the trial, there was a great air of mysticism, suspense and confusion. The first people to come out were the defendants, all escorted by UAN Peacekeeping troops. As they were seated, the prosecution came out, and subsequently the judges. Chief prosecutor Jackson McArdy came to the stand, to give the opening address, commemorating the start of the trials.
|“||We are gathered here today to begin the greatest trial that Antarctica has ever seen. We have come to this place as nation flushed with victory, and that has delivered stunning defeat to its new adversaries. We have come here today to stay the hand of wrath and vengeance, in favor of dealing the firm justice of the law, that has been so wholly disregarded by those whom we seek to punish. It is not our job to deal out "victor's justice", but rather to judge these defendants fairly. This means that some of these monsters may even walk free if the evidence does not support our convictions. Our job at this tribunal is to set a precedent. Never before have people who have committed such terrible crimes against the very idea of honor and dignity been brought to bear and brought to defend their reprehensible actions. We must condemn the wrongdoings of these people with the fair judgement of the law. We must bring the world to bear with their crimes so that they may never be repeated again. We must stop these actions from being ignored and undealt with, because our very civilization cannot be brought to survive their repeating. Thank you.||”|
— Jackson McArdy
The proceedings began with each defendant being told their convictions, and then being asked to respond with either "guilty" or "not guilty". Every single defendant responded with a "not guilty" plea. It was obvious that there was much work to be done.
The first thing to be done was for the prosecution to present the evidence supporting their claims that the defendants had committed said crimes. Finding evidence was not an easy task. The governments of Notron had mostly destroyed documents en-masse, getting rid of any evidence that they didn't explicitly agree with. Most evidence used at the trials was gathered by the Shopper military during the occupation; most footage came in the form of photographs and video tapes. These tapes showed the atrocities committed by the three regimes. It showed footage of concentration and extermination camps, and their inhabitants. It showed the conditions of those who were living, and the conduct of those in power. Many of these tapes were shown on the big screen for the entire court by the prosecution. The footage shocked even the defendants, who had committed such acts. Along with the video footage, hundreds of photographs and days worth of witness testimonials were heard. Everyone in the dock had blood on their flippers. Now it was time to hear what the defendants had to say for themselves.
Much of the proceedings involved cross-examination of the accused. Questions as to why they had done it, if it had been intentional, and why it was justified were some of the most popular questions asked. The main theme of cross-examination was to determine guilt.
Three defendants were cross-examined more specifically than others; the three leaders of their states; The Captain, King Svend, and Notre Dirigeant. Their cases were separated from the rest of the defendants; and were quizzed especially hard. The goal was to get an explanation out of the leaders as to why some of the largest atrocities had happened under their reigns. One of the most famous responses came from The Captain:
|“||The idea of interning those who go against our wishes is very simple. They are a threat to our security. These camps were designed to take out those who are a danger to the state. My firm purpose, once I gained power, was to keep it, by any means possible. I kept such power because I was the only one who can be trusted with it. After we won the Great War, I abolished the slow and flawed process of democratic government in exchange for the socialist government that Orwellia has prospered under. At first, those who had committed direct treason against the state were imprisoned. Later, we found that not to be good enough. Those capable of hurting the state would also have to be dealt with. Anyone who did not seem to share the same interest of the state, thought criminals, if you may, were also shipped away. The Mind Patrol was established to maintain the integrity of our country. The extermination camps were designed to keep our people clean and protected from the unworthy and undesirable. In earnest, the entire system of camps and prisons is there to protect the very interest and stability of the state, and so I ask you; can you truthfully see anything wrong with that?||”|
— The Captain, former leader of Orwellia
After this statement, the prosecution looked for the reason as to why nobody had said anything in the government. When asked as to why nobody in the government had said anything opposing these plans, General Wahnsinn summed it up concisely:
|“||The reason that nobody said anything in opposition was quite obvious. Everyone you seek to condemn in this court is a yes-man. All the no-men are dead.||”|
— General Wahnsinn of Verpomia
After many more days of cross-examination, the court adjourned itself. The judges had decided that there was enough incriminating evidence gathered to sentence and affirm each of the accused. After weeks of testimonies, footage reels, arguments and cross-examinations, the defendants had made their last stand before the court and were about to receive their ruling.
|“||Leader of Ouestland, on the counts of the indictment, on which you have been convicted of all charges, the tribunal sentences you to Death by Hanging.||”|
— Sentencing Format; Specific sentence given to Notre Dirigeant.
The convictions and sentences were read on the last day of the trial, July 25. To determine guilt and their sentence, both judges had to agree. A third UPI judge had to be brought in to solve any disagreements. But, the sentences and convictions were eventually delivered as such:
The convictions are still in the same order:
- = Conspiracy
- = Crimes Against Humanity
- = Crimes Against Peace
- = Waging Aggressive Warfare
- G = Guilty
- I = Not Guilty/Innocent
- — = Never Accused
Despite the obvious defeat of the defense's case, there were still some major victories on behalf of the defense.
Many of the Crimes Against Peace convictions were waived with the argument that the Shoppers had conducted themselves no differently. Most arguments regarding capturing enemy territory without remorse, or occupying enemy territory under the military leaned in the favor of the defense. While the Shoppers had originally said that "they did it too" would not be an acceptable argument, the judge still took these claims into consideration.
One of the most shocking revelations of the trial was the sentencing of King Svend, leader of Verpomia, in which he only got a ten year prison sentence while his other leader counterparts got the death penalty. The court had deemed Svend not guilty on all but one count, because of evidence they had gathered from the other Verpommians during cross-examination. It was determined that by the time Svend had ascended the throne, the role of king was only a ceremonial position, and by then all the power had been vested in the Verpommian noblemen. Svend was gracious for being spared, but the decision caused much outrage.
The Ouestians also succeeded in overturning many of their "naval war crimes" considerations, as the Shoppers had engaged in brutal naval battles with the Ouestian military on many occasions, using overwhelming force and killing thousands.
The Vonkouver Trials live on as a major event in the history of diplomacy and justice. It has been quoted by many as the "greatest trial in Antarctic history". Never before had such cruel and heartless people that had possessed so much power been brought to their knees and been brought to face justice. The trials had shown how war criminals and those who commit such atrocities should be dealt with. There was no vengeance, no mock hearings, and no predetermined fates. Even some of the accused who'd had considerable guilt on them got off relatively scot-free.
The Vonkouver Trials would also set a basis for many cases in the future. Not long after the trial, Shops Island produced the "Vonkouver Principles", which stated that any person responsible for such wholesale destruction, deprivation and tyranny must be brought to face the firm and just hand of the law. Both the Vonkouver Trials and Vonkouver Principles would go towards founding the UAN International Criminal Court, which would work on the same system used in Vonkouver. The essence of the Vonkouver Trials can be summed up in one statement:
|“||This trial brings to bear the most cruel and degrading people that society has to offer, and tries them without bias or prior judgement. These trials are the greatest gesture to humanity that power has ever paid to reason. As we stay vengeance in favor of the path of justice; we seek to condemn those who have wronged us and the world not with the swiftness of violence or with unbased accusations, but rather with the firm and fair process of the law.||”|
— Jackson McArdy
- It was seen as an example of an international trial done right, after the less-than-impressive Pengslo Trials, which many considered to be a Kangaroo court.
- This is a parody of the Nuremberg trials.