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Colonial Cases

France, Army

Pontypool Free Press, 9 June 1872


VERSAILLES, WEDNESDAY.-The courtmartial condemned to death yesterday M. Cerfbeer, a captain of the Mobiles of the Meurth, for having deserted to the enemy before Phalsburg.


The North Wales Times, 12 August 1899


  The Courtmartial of Captain Alfred Dreyfus opened at 7 o'clock on Monday morning at Rennes. Our readers need hardly be reminded that this Courtmartial is the second trial of Dreyfus for an alleged disclosure of Army secrets to a foreign power. Captain Dreyfus was arrested on the 15th of October, 1894, and his trial concluded on the 22nd of the following December, when he was sentenced to banishment for life to Devil's Island in South America, and on the 4th of January, was publicly degraded." His sufferings during the period of his incarceration are now being made public, and were undoubtedly of a horrible nature. There were many who doubted the justice of Dreyfus' sentence and on the 18th of November, 1896, M. Castelin interpellated on his behalf at the Chamber. Soon after, Col. Henri as is now well known, forged a document with a view of preventing the revision of the case. Ever since that date, the Dreyfus incident has been before the public continually. In 1897 various official persons in France declared their conviction that Dreyfus was innocent; and M. Scheurer-Kestner called on General Billot the Minister of War on the subject. In November of that year, Major Esterhazy was accused of being the author of the incriminating bordereau. In 1898 M. Zola the famous novelist, published his letter to the President of the Republic entitled "J'accuse" and proceedings were taken against him at the Seine Assize Court, where on the 23rd of February he was fined 3,000 francs and sentenced to one year's imprisonment. On the 2nd of April, this sentence was squashed and Zola was prosecuted at Versailles. He appealed against his conviction there, but his appeal was rejected, and ultimately he leaves France on the 30th of August, Col. Henri is arrested for forgery and after several incidents of more or less startling character, the extension of the Dreyfus investigation to the entire Court of Cassation was voted by the Chamber. Since this case has been subject for discussion more than one French Ministry have fallen, and their fall can undoubtedly be traced to the influence of those who were for and against Dreyfus in this matter.

  As we stated the Courtmartial, or the re- hearing of the Dreyfus case commenced last Monday. Captain Dreyfus to whose degradation we have referred to above, appeared in Court in full uniform and honours of his rank, but without a sword. He looked thin and worn and bears evident traces of the hardship that he has gone through and of the tremendous ordeal which still awaits him. When the list of witnesses were called out it was found that several were absent, including ex-Major Esterhazy, and Madame Margaret Pays. After the preliminaries had been gone through, the charge against Dreyfus was read. In it he was accused of writing a bordereau, and of giving the document mentioned in it to the agents of a Power hostile to France. His reply was, "I say Colonel that I am innocent of these charges. For five years I have thus declared my innocence. Never, never, I know nothing of that document which was never written by me. That I swear. That I solemnly swear, my Colonel. I declare that I am innocent, that my honour and that of my family are unsullied, intact." Following the customary procedure the prisoner was then interrogated and gave most lucid and convincing explanations of all things that were asked of him. On Tuesday the Courtmartial sat with closed doors, the same course being adopted on Wednesday and Thursday.


Cambrian Daily Leader, 30 August 1919


Man Who Was Not Trusted.


PARIS, Friday (received Saturday).

When the Quien courtmartial was resumed, Colonel Amus stated that the request of the counsel for the defence to make certain enquiries of the Belgian Judicial Authorities would be granted, provided that the required information from the Belgian Judicial Authorities arrived within the stated period. The President also pointed out that Quien was not only charged with the denunciation of Miss Cavell, but also with other acts constituting intelligence with the enemy.

  The Princess de Croy asked to be allowed to inform the court that she omitted in her evidence the fact that the German police officer Finkhoff was also known under the name of Henry.


  The hearing of witnesses then proceeded. Cappian, an engineer, of Mons, who helped the Princess de Croy and Miss Cavell to make false papers, and supplied them to fugitives, stated that Quien appeared very curious with regard to the l details of the organisation, but that he did not inspire confidence, and was told nothing. Oecloedt, the proprietor of a cafe near Miss Cavell's house in Brussels, said that Quien visited his cafe on the day of Miss Cavell's arrest, and appeared to be directing the operations. "Knowing that the German police were in Miss Cavell's house," said witness, "Quien endeavoured to persuade me to take a note from him to Miss Cavell, as if he wanted to compromise her still further by allowing a note to fall into the hands of the Germans, as it inevitably would have done."      

 This allegation Quien denied.


  The next witness was Mdlle. Marthe Mairie, a former maid to Miss Cavell, partly on whose account Miss Cavell decided to get rid of Quien. Mairie stated that Quien never asked for details of Miss Cavell s organisation. One of Miss Cavell's maids, named Paurie, met two men, who spoke to her of some escapes to Holland and of an officer who was occupying Room 21. A few days afterwards one of these men was among the Germans who arrested Miss Cavell.

  Counsel for the defence here interrupted, saying, "Who is this Pauline?" No one saw her at the preliminary enquiry. This is the way the whole case has been inducted."

  As a result of further interruptions by counsel for the defence, the [...] amid great excitement, suspended the sitting.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School