Aug 8, 2008

Hitler's chaffeur

The recent trial and sentencing of Osama Bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan, made me curious about how we dealt with Hitler's driver. SS-ObersturmbannfĂĽhrer Erich Kempka served as Adolf Hitler's chauffeur from 1934 to 1945, when, as the end of the Third Reich drew near, Kempka was one of those responsible for burning Hitler's body — delivering 200 litres of gasoline to the garden outside the bunker. On June 20th, he was captured by U.S. troops at Berchtesgaden. At the Nuremberg trials, he was called to testify but was released on October 9, 1947.

Of Hamdan's case, The Economist writes that his "sentence may not survive appeal, as Mr Hamdan was acquitted on charges of terrorist conspiracy, but convicted on a lesser charge of providing 'material support' to a terror group—an offense that may fall outside the proper jurisdiction of a military tribunal. But this also places the adminstration in an awkward position. Having defended the tribunal system for years—both in public statements and in a Supreme Court case brought and won by Mr Hamdan in 2006—they must now either repudiate the decision anyway, or acknowledge that some of their heated rhetoric about the dangerous fanatics held at Guanatanamo was unfounded."

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