I noticed a news item about Singapore meting out punishment on a man’s meat (bad pun intended). Although this form of punishment seems to linger in parts of the world formerly associated with the British Empire, I can recall no such pain being inflicted in the United States. Of course, there was tarring and feathering, stocks, hanging, overcrowded prisons, and, more recently, water-boarding for lucky foreigners.
What’s my point? I want to point out different justice systems in different parts of the world and how different stories attract attention.
In the US, a young Florida woman captured a great deal of air time recently, and a large portion of the population reached a different conclusion about her guilt than did the jury charged with trying her case. This falls into the category of: if you have an opinion, then you must be right…in your mind, at least.
A different kind of verdict is causing anger at the justice system in Germany. More lenient courts have resulted from losing a war and subsequent evolvement of a liberal society. Laws are based upon paragraphs and not precedent, so lawyers have less wiggle room. Trials are boring and usually ignored by all except participants. Sentences are mild and often suspended. Fines are minimal, compared to the idiocy meted out in the US.
What’s causing people to get their Lederhosen in a twist? A student kidnapped a young boy from a wealthy banking family (he had been the boy’s tutor, so the child trusted him) and sent a ransom note to the parents. He was quickly captured, but refused to reveal the boy’s whereabouts. The police threatened harsh interrogation treatment (mild compared to the kind favored by US authorities), after which he led police to where he had stashed the boy. Unfortunately, the boy was found to be dead. The student was sentenced to a few years for unlawful death. Once in jail, he sued the police for violating his rights during the interrogation. He demanded 6000 euros. Today, the court ruled in his favor, but awarded only 3000 euros. In the end, he made money from the kidnapping, but the boy is still dead.
It’s easy to see why many Germans are upset at the judges. I’m not so sure about the Florida case, because I do not know enough to be prejudiced.
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Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.