More than a a century after he was executed, supporters of Harry “Breaker” Morant have upped the ante in their fight to have the legendary soldier pardoned.
Morant – executed by firing squad in 1902 for killing prisoners in the Boer War – had always contended he was following orders to not take prisoners.
Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon is considering asking the British Government to revisit the case of Morant, a lieutenant in the South Australian Mounted Rifles.
Morant descendant Cathy Morant will present a letter to Ms Roxon today, urging her to officially take up the case of “the Breaker”. She says he and fellow lieutenant Peter Handcock, also executed, were denied “procedural fairness”.
“My family has always believed that the whole trial was a sham,” Ms Morant said.
“It is certainly time to pardon them.”
Ms Roxon’s predecessor, Robert McClelland, had intended to pursue the matter before he was moved from the position late last year.
A spokesman for Ms Roxon told The Advertiser she was strongly considering taking up the matter.
“This is obviously an intriguing case, which has been closely followed by the descendants of the men and interested parties,” he said. “The Attorney-General has requested a briefing from the department and will consider this matter in due course.”
Today marks the 110th anniversary of the executions.
They remain the first and only Australians to be executed during wartime.
Military lawyer Jim Unkles said the two were executed for following orders to take no prisoners.
Mr Unkles, who has campaigned since 2009 to overturn the convictions in order to obtain posthumous pardons, urged Ms Roxon to follow through on Mr McClelland’s promise. Should she not take up the case, Mr Unkles will launch his own case before the Britain’s Court of Appeal.
Update: news to follow in 2017