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A Historical Curiosity

Tyler Young is a practicing lawyer. When Tyler isn't writing fiction, he is usually at a zoo or museum with his wife and two young children. Follow him on Twitter @Tyler_A_Young.

Court Clears "Mad" Murderer; Anti-Empire Fury Boils
June 28, 1914, Sarajevo.
Early this morning, President of the Court Luigi von Curinaldi announced that Hugh Ernst, accused mass murderer, had been cleared of criminal wrongdoing. Mr. Ernst will be confined at the Sarajevo Institute for Mental Disorders for the indefinite future.
Mr. Ernst first gained notoriety three months ago when captured in the blood-drenched apartment of his last victim, local student Gavrilo Princip. Mr. Ernst's arrest put an end to a four-day reign of terror that left sixteen young men, all members of various nationalist organizations, dead. Mr. Ernst became an object of tabloid fascination when his defense lawyer, Dr. Rudolf Zistler, announced his defense: Mr. Ernst believed that these murders, which he admitted committing, were necessary to avert a war that would consume the entire world.
Lead prosecutor Franjo Svara derided this as a transparent ploy to avoid responsibility, but the Court found it persuasive. Speaking from the bench, Judge Curinaldi said, "The man's lunacy is beyond doubt. Mr. Ernst described horrors that only a madman could conceive--clouds of poison gas, millions dead, the whole of Europe reduced to a smoldering wreck. It would be unjust to kill a man who does not understand he has committed a crime."
Public outcry was immediate. Demonstrators took to the courthouse steps to protest the decision. One protester, who declined to give his name, explained "the Courts are tools of the Austrians. They won't do anything to give justice to Serbs, even if the killer admits his guilt!"
Archduke Ferdinand, presently in Sarajevo to observe military maneuvers, urged calm and respect for the judicial process. At press time, sources reported that the crowd of protesters was moving toward the Archduke's parade route.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, August 18th, 2016
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