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Judicial CP - October 1894

Corpun file 19451


The Times, London, 17 October 1894, p.5

The Flogging Scandal In The Cameroons.


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It will be remembered that the rising which took place last December against the German authorities in the Cameroons was largely ascribed to the misconduct of Herr Leist, a subordinate official who was unfortunately entrusted for the time being with the functions of acting governor. He was charged with having provoked the revolt by gross excesses, for which he has had to answer today before a Court of Discipline.

The prosecution, represented by Herr Rose, Secretary of Legation, who was sent out by the Foreign Office to make an inquiry on the spot, charged him with undue cruelty in causing women to be stripped and flogged; with improper conduct, accompanied by acts of violence towards other woman left in his charge as hostages and with having thereby caused a rising against the Imperial authority and impaired the prestige of the German Empire. On these counts Herr Rose demanded the dismissal of the defendant from the public service.

Herr Leist pleaded that the flogging was absolutely necessary, as he had exhausted all other methods of punishment, and he claimed that it had been administered as humanely as possible in the circumstances. In the eyes of the natives no special indignity attached to being stripped naked. In East Africa flogging was the recognized form of punishment, and Herr von Soden himself had been obliged to apply it. He acknowledged being guilty of the improper acts, but denied violence, and claimed that, considering the lax views of morality which prevailed in Africa, the offence could not have excited public reprehension there. He also denied that his conduct had been the cause of the rising.

In spite of a vigorous address by the prosecutor, insisting that the flogging was unnecessary; that, as representing the Emperor, Leist could not claim to be judged by the standard of African morality; and that his conduct had brought shame and disgrace on the German name, the Court acquitted the defendant on all the counts except that of improper acts, and considered that his offence under that head would be adequately met by his transfer to another post with a reduction of 20 per cent on his salary. The Court was of opinion that in causing the women to be flogged he had not exceeded his powers, and that his conduct had not been the cause of the rising. In meting out punishment, it took into account his long and excellent previous services.

Such an extraordinary finding defies comment. It may be good law, but it will certainly not be endorsed by German public opinion. -- Our Own Correspondent.

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