Triumph for Soviet Justice

Saturday 22nd August 1936

The chief Soviet prosecutor Andrei Vishiniski found that his eloquence before the court trying sixteen people on charges of conspiracy was to rewarded. In his closing statement he had sought the death penalty for all of them in a four hour speech. They were a "society of political murderers...Mad Fascist police dogs....Despicable rotten dregs of humanity...Scum of the underworld." He pointed out that the confessions that they had given during their imprisonment for the previous three months provided ample evidence on which to convict. What was labelled the Trotsky Zinovieff conspiracy also drew in the Gestapo, which, according to the confession of one of the defendants, had supplied false passports.

All sixteen were sentence to death by firing squad, although they were given a generous 72 hours in which to appeal. A telegram from the Second International and the International Federation of Trades Unions suggesting that independent counsel and clemency might have been desirable drew the well-deserved reproof that its authors, including Sir Walter Citrine of the British TUC, were no more than"contemptible defenders of murderers and agents of the Gestapo".


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