Deportation of Karl Linnas

American government functionaries have treated Karl Linnas shamefully, to be sure, but his case is by no means unprecedented. Sheriffs and chiefs of police have been known to arrest persons suspected of crime and then turn them over to lynch mobs. Turning a prisoner over for a predictable legal lynching is the same thing.

Another such case is that of Andrija Artukovic, who was extradited to Yugoslavia for a political show trial, where even our State Department recognized and (reported to Congress) that “human rights organizations believe that the outcome in political cases is predetermined before the accused goes to trial.” The circumstance that an accused is believed to have been guilty of a capital crime is not usually thought of as an excuse for a lynching.

Totalitarian countries often go through the motions of legal process in a political case before announcing the predetermined result. But in the Linnas case the Soviet Union demonstrated its contempt for even the appearance of fairness, for his conviction and sentence of death were announced even before the accused was tried in absentia.

In Wonderland when the Queen insisted on “Sentence first--verdict afterward,” Alice cried, “Stuff and nonsense.” But that was fantasy, not real life, where the course of justice is too often corrupted by politics and prejudice, as has happened in the Linnas case, both here and in the Soviet Union.



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