The old bailey

Victims of a cruel prejudice: the last two men to be executed for sodomy in England

Seventy-three prisoners were condemned to death at the Old Bailey in 1835 at a time when there were more than 200 capital offences on the statute book. Nevertheless, all had their sentences commuted apart from two: James Pratt and John Smith, who were convicted of ‘the detestable and abominable crime’ of sodomy. The indictment stated that the accused had been ‘seduced by the instigation of the devil’ ‘The love that dare not speak its name’ may forever be associated with Alfred Douglas and Oscar Wilde, but the same reticence was clearly evident in the first half of the century. When in 1828 Sir Robert Peel introduced the Offences Against the

How the net finally closed on the Nazi henchman Andrei Sawoniuk

Fedor Zan was 18, working on the river closing sluices, when, on a winter afternoon in 1942, he saw his childhood friend Andrei Sawoniuk standing in a clearing outside Domachevo, their town in Belarus. Sawoniuk had lined up 15 terrified women, all wearing the yellow Jewish star. As Zan watched, hidden behind the pine trees, Sawoniuk ordered the women to strip naked, shot them in the back and kicked their bodies into a newly dug pit. Fifty-seven years later, Zan was one of a dozen witnesses to give evidence against Sawoniuk at the Old Bailey, at the only war crimes trial ever held in Britain. Though the UK lost interest