The Executed Officers.
STATEMENT BY THE WAR OFFICE.
TWELVE MURDERS PROVED.
(By Cable from Our London Correspondent.)
The official statement issued by the War Office with reference to the sentences passed by court martial on the officers of the Bushveldt Car- bineers is as follows:—"In July and August of last year the Bushveldt Carbineers were recruited in South Africa, many men from the other colo- nies being also included in their ranks. The newly-raised corps was employed in the wildest part of the Transvaal, known as the Spelonkon, and took a certain number of prisoners. It came to the knowledge of the authorities in October that there had been grave irregularities on the part of certain officers of the corps during the previous three months, and an exhaustive investi- gation was ordered. A Court of Inquiry assembled on October 15, resulting in five officers being tried by general court-martial at Pietersburg in January. The prisoners were found guilty; either as principals or accessories, of twelve murders. Lieutenants H. H. Morant and P. J. Handcock were sentenced to death, the death sentence duly confirmed by the Commander-in-Chief, and car- ried out. The same officers were also charged with murdering a German missionary, the Rev. C. Heese, on August 23, but, although there was a strong suspicion that Lieutenant Handcock, in- stigated by Lieutenant Morant, committed the deed, the evidence on the point was not suffi- ciently conclusive to justify a conviction. Lieu- tenant G. R. Witton was found guilty of murder, and sentenced to death; but, he being present under influence, the death sentence was com- muted to penal servitude for life. Lieutenant H. Picton was found guilty of manslaughter. Major Lenehan, commanding the Bushveldt Car- bineers, became aware of the crimes subsequent to their committal. lie was convicted of cul- pable neglect in emitting to report the offenders, and was ordered to Australia, his dismissal from the service being rendered unnecessary by the previous disbandment of his corps. No doubt exists as to the guilt of the accused, whose plea of extenuation that a member of their corps had suffered ill-treatment at the hands of the Boers, was not sustained by the evidence at the trial. The sentences were such as would have been in- flicted upon any officers found similarly guilty."
LIEUTENANT PICTON'S STORY.
Lieutenant H. Picton was a passenger to Eng land by the transport Canada, recently arrived. Interviewed by a representative of the "Daily Mail," Picton stated that when tho Carbineers were attacking Barend Viijoen's farm as Duivel's Stoep in September last, Captain Hunt was left wounded on the verandah. Next day Hunt's comrades, Morant and Handcock, found his dead body, which had been stripped cf clothing and brutally kicked. In addition, the face and legs had been slashed with a knife, one eye had been gouged out, and his neck had been broken. Mr. Reuter, the missionary, at whose station Captain Hunt's body was buried, is alleged to have con firmed this description of how the corpse was found. Picton goes on to state that Morant and Hand'cock swore revenge for the brutality with which their comrade had been treated, and order ed that if the murderers were captured no quar ter was to be given them. A Boer, who was cap tured dressed in the late Captain Hunt's clothes, got short shrift. Later, eight other Boers were captured, and a drum-head court-martial having showed that they belonged to the same party, they were executed. Revenge, not plunder, was, Picton declares, the motive actuating Morant and Handcock, who considered that the laws of war justified their actions. The story of how Hand .co'Sk had twelve Boers shot in order to get pos session of £20,000 which they had concealed In their waggons, he declares to be a lie. In con nection with the death of the German missionary, Picton states that Mrs. Schiel, wife of the notori ous adventurer "Colonel" Schiel, now a prisoner at St. Helena, proved at the court-martial that both Handcock and Morant were at a farmhouse forty mile's away on the night that the Rev. C, Heese was murdered. Moreover, Morant, when dying, protested that he was innocent of the
The "Daily Mail" says the guilt of the irrogulai troops casts no stain upon the conduct of the wai or of the army. The "Daily News" says the mini, mum of facts elicited shows that Lord Kitchene: is a just and fearless commander-! Tho "Stan dard" observes that misleading statements havt fostered a misunderstanding in Australia. Th< facts, it adds, will ultimately show that the guilt: ! were treated with the utmost equity. The "St
James' Gazette" remarks that the justice of Lor< Kitchener has vindicated the honor of the army Australia, it continues, should not be held res ponsible for the misdeeds of irregulars. Th' "Pall Mall Gazette" thinks the exemplary pun ishment ought to convince the Boers of the even handed justice of the British. The New Yor] correspondents of the "Daily Mail" and "Dail; Express" say that Lord Kitchener's course pre vents the incident being charged against th
MESSAGE FROM LORD KITCHENER.
Through the Governor-General, Mr. Barton, wh is in Sydney, received on Sunday the following cable from Lord Kitchener:-"In reply to you telegram, Morant, Handcock, and Witton wen charged with twenty separate murders, includinj one German missionary who had witnessed othe murders. Twelve of these murders were prov ed from evidence. It appears that Morant, wa tho originator of crimes, which Handcock car ried out in a cold-blooded manner. The murder
¡ were committed in the wildest part of the Trans
I vaal, known as 'Spelonkon,' about SO miles t
the north of Pretoria, on four separate days namely, July 2, August ll, August 23, and Sep tember 7. In one case, when eight Boer pri señera were murdered, it was alleged in def enc to have been done in the spirit of revenge for ill treatment of one cf their officers, Lieutenan Hunt, who was killed in áction. No such ill treatment was proved. The prisoners were con victed after a most exhaustive trial, and were de fended by counsel. There were, in my opinior no extenuating circumstances. Lieutenant Wit ton wao also convicted, but I commuted his sen tence to penal servitude for life, in considerate i of his having been under the influence of Moran
and Handcock. The report of the proceeding has been sent home.'1' ,
Commenting on this report, the Prime Minister states that it seems to establish murders of euch a character that the prisoners were necessarily, subject to the severest punishment. That the ques tion of the degree of punishment was considered by Lord Kitchener is clear from the commu tation of the death sentence in Witton's case. At the same time, it does not substantiate the wild stories of plunder and robbery, and he (Mr. Bar ton) has received no information which for a moment justifies the accusation that the executed officers'took life for the purposes of plunder. Asked whether any steps would bc taken to have Witton's punishment lessened, Mr. Barton replied that nothing could be done until the evidence came to hand. He understands that Major Thomas, of Inverell, who defended the prisoner*1 at their trial, is bringing out copies of the depo*
THE ARMY ORDERS.
Major-General Hutton, who is in Melbourne, .has been handed ,the following Army Order dealing with the case, and which has been re ceived privately, from Pretoria by an Australian officer: "Army Orders, South Africa. Army headquarters, Pretoria, February 28, 1902. I. Discipline. The following extracts from the proceedings of general courts-martial bold at Pietersburg, Transvaal, between January 16 and February 19, 1902, for the trial of the undermen tioned prisoners is published for information :: I. H. H. Morant, P. J. Handcock, G. R. Witton, and H. Picton, of the Bushveldt Carbineers, were charged with:-Charge: When on active service committing the offence of murder. Finding: The court find the prisoner Morant guilty of murder, and find tho prisoners Handcock, Witton, and Picton guilty of manslaughter. 2. H. II. Morant, P. J. Handcock, and G. R. Witton, of the Bushveldt Carbineers, were charged with:-Charge: When on active service committing the offence of miu'der. Finding: The Court finds the prisoners guilty of the charge. Sentence: The Court sentenced tho prisoners, Morant, Handcock, and Witton to suffer death by being shot, and prisoner Picton to bo cashiered. Confirmation: The General Com rnanding-in-Chief has confirmed the sentence in thc case of the prisoners Morant, .Handcock, and Picton, but has commuted the sentence awarded to the prisoner Witton to one of penal servitude for life. The sentences awarded to the prisoners Morant and Handcock have been carried out. . . . 4. Major R. W. Lenehan, of thc Bushveldt Carbin eers, was charged with:-Charge: When on ac tive service, by culpable neglect, omitting to make a report which it was his duty to make. Finding: The Court find prisoner- guilty of tho charge. Sentence: The Court sentenco pi'isoner to be reprimanded. The finding and the sentence ha,ve been confirmed by-the General Commanding