chapter  20
9 Pages

Clemency and Retribution

Communism committed inexcusable high crimes against humanity judged from the standards of contemporary international law. Some state killings may have been excusable on various grounds. The International Criminal Court might find that specific homicides were self-defense, greater goods, or even beyond good and evil, but not enough to avert a guilty verdict on the Red Holocaust. Nonetheless, many may still feel that communist despots and communism more broadly deserve sympathetic treatment, or even that their high crimes against humanity are forgivable. Defense attorneys anticipating an adverse judgment on the narrow issue of guilt can be expected to include pleas for clemency in their closing arguments, and post-trial appeals. Victims, and those speaking on their behalf, are likely to enter countervailing pleas for retribution (an eye for an eye), including compensation for aggravating factors like torture.1