Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Thursday, June 24, 1999 Published at 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK


UK

Sawoniuk sentencing explained

Should life mean life for Anthony Sawoniuk?

BBC Home and Legal Affairs Correspondent Jon Silverman explains the row over the sentencing of the war criminal Anthony Sawoniuk.

In Britain, the mandatory sentence for murder is life imprisonment. But in every case, the home secretary sets a tariff - that is the minimum amount of time required to satisfy retribution and deterrence.

He takes this decision after receiving the private recommendations of the trial judge and the Lord Chief Justice.


[ image: Sawoniuk at the Old Bailey]
Sawoniuk at the Old Bailey
In this case, the trial judge, Mr Justice Potts, is recommending that Anthony Sawoniuk should die in jail.

In his report to the home secretary, he writes: "Given the defendant's age and the nature of the offences, to release him before his death would, in my opinion, defeat the purpose of the War Crimes Act. "

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham, says that the judge's view is "plainly a tenable approach to this unique case ". But his own interpretation of the War Crimes Act is rather different.

He writes that the "general deterrence has little part in this sentence and retribution must be moderated when delayed for nearly 60 years and visited on a man approaching the age of 80".

Dispute over WWII criminals

Lord Bingham may well be reflecting the views of many lawyers who do not feel comfortable about prosecuting people for crimes committed so long ago.

Indeed, the current Attorney-General, John Morris, QC, voted against the legislation when it was debated in parliament.

However, MPs overwhelmingly backed the bill and did so in the knowledge that anyone prosecuted under it would inevitably be old and the crimes committed more than half a century ago.

It's now up to the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to fix the tariff for Sawoniuk. But he will wait for an appeal hearing - to be heard before the Lord Chief Justice in July - as well as representations from Sawoniuk's lawyers.

Mr Straw has until January 2000 to tell Sawoniuk whether he can expect to die in jail or not.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

24 Jun 99 | UK
Sawoniuk jail term dispute

01 Apr 99 | UK
Sawoniuk - a hidden life exposed

01 Apr 99 | UK
Life for war criminal





Internet Links


Holocaust history project


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online