The modern use of international tribunals to try heads of state for genocide and crimes against humanity is often considered a positive development. Many people think that the establishment of special courts to prosecute notorious dictators represents a triumph of law over impunity. In A History of Political Trials, John Laughland takes a very different and controversial view. He shows that trials of heads of state are in fact not new, and that previous trials throughout history have themselves violated the law and due process. It is the historical account which carries the argument. By examining trials of heads of state and government throughout history – figures as different as Charles I, Louis XVI, Erich Honecker, Saddam Hussein and Charles Taylor – Laughland shows that modern trials of heads of state have ugly historical precedents. In their different ways, all the trials he describes were marked by arbitrariness and injustice, and many were gross exercises in hypocrisy. Political trials, he finds, are only the continuation of war by other means. With short and easy chapters, but the fruit of formidable erudition and wide reading, this book will force the general reader to re-examine prevailing opinions on this subject. ; The modern use of international tribunals to try heads of state for genocide and crimes against humanity is often considered a positive development. In A History of Political Trials, John Laughland shows that trials of heads of state are in fact not new, and that previous trials throughout history have themselves violated the law and due process. ; Contents: The Trial of Charles I and the Last Judgement – The Trial of Louis XVI and the Terror – War Guilt after World War I – Defeat in the Dock: the Riom Trial – Justice as Purge: Marshal Pétain Faces his Accusers – Treachery on Trial: the Case of Vidkun Quisling – Nuremberg: Making War Illegal – Creating Legitimacy: the Trial of Marshal Antonescu – Ethnic Cleansing and National Cleansing in Czechoslovakia, 1945-1947 – People’s Justice in Liberated Hungary – From Mass Execution to Amnesty and Pardon: Postwar Trials in Bulgaria, Finland, and Greece – Politics as Conspiracy: the Tokyo Trials – The Yassiada Trial, the Greek Colonels, Emperor Bokassa, and the Argentine Generals: Transitional Justice, 1960-2007 – Revolution Returns: the Trial of Nicolae Ceausescu – A State on Trial: Erich Honecker in Moabit – Jean Kambanda, Convicted without Trial – Kosovo and the New World Order: the Trial of Slobodan Miloševic – Regime Change and the Trial of Saddam Hussein – The Trial of Charles Taylor – The Punishment Ethic in International Relations.
Praise for the first edition:
«A formidable and well-documented counterblast to a developing modern orthodoxy, expressing a point of view that many readers will not even have suspected existed, let alone read.» (Anthony Daniels, The Spectator)
«A useful and controversial contribution to the debate about victor’s justice, and a valuable warning that international war crimes tribunals need to operate with precision and care.» (Jonathan Steele, The Guardian)
John Laughland is Director of Studies at the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation in Paris. Having studied at Oxford, where he also completed a doctorate, he has taught at universities in Paris and Rome. He has published several books including The Tainted Source: The Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea (1997), Travesty: The Trial of Slobodan Miloševic and the Corruption of International Justice (2007) and Schelling versus Hegel, from German Idealism to Christian Metaphysics (2008). He is a regular commentator on international affairs on television and in the press.