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A HORRIBLE SIGHT.

Recently the war corre»pondents of the Daily Telegraph .and the Morning Advertiser of London called attention to some of the barbarities practised in the name of justice by England's Egyptian allies, the native authorities who remained supporters of the Khedive The Daily Ttlegraph correspondent stated that certain prisoners handed orer by the English to the Khedivian authorities had been tortured with the thnmb-screw. This was at first denied. On inquiry it turned out to be true. The British authorities made communications to the Khedive on the subject, and orders were given that torture (quite common in Egypt it seems) was no longer to be resorted to. Since then, however, it has transpired that the Egyptian authorities for certain crimes inflicted upon the condemned a punishment called " keelhauling." The exposure of this barbarity by the English press has led to a suggestion by the English authorities for its abolition, and the Khedive has issued an order to put an ; end to the practice in future. For untamed and disgusting cruelty " keelhauling" is about the most horrible punishment that the depraved mind of man could invent. It is described as follows by the special correspondent of the London Morning Advertiser, who was an eye-witness of a seen 3 which offers a ghastly illustration of the kind of people the English were fighting for and against: —"Yesterday I tried to write a description of a most horrible sight. It was so revoltingly cruel, so barbarous, so infamously brutal, that I gave it up. Still, it is right that the people of England should know what sort of people even the friendly Egyptians are, and therefore this story of how two men were keelhauled from on board the Mehemet Ali, a man of war of the Dative service. I had heard accidentally that the punishment was to be inflicted upon two sailors —one a fireman from the Khedive's yacht, the other a sailor. Their offence was one of those unnamable Grimes, which, by the way, do not take a place as crimes in most Ottoman countries. Anchored just near the Mehemet Ali was the Sumatra, an Italian mail ship, on board which I had been a passenger 1. month or so ago, and from her main top one could look down on the Mehemet Ali and see both sides of her, as well as her decks. Just before noon the men were brought on deck pinioned with their arms behind their back, their hands before them, and ancle irons confining their feet so that they could barely walk. The crew of the ship bad been called on deck. The officers stood on the starboard side, the crew on the port, the victims at the main-mast. The officers were in the flaunting dress of their service, the men wore their cutlasses. An officer read the findings—at least that is what we supposed they were —of the court-martial. This was a long and protracted ceremony. When he had done some seamen went aloft and made fast to the mainstay near the mast two blocks. From this they rove two stout lines in different direction?. These were carried over the side of the ship and weighted with a sounding lead about forty feet from the end. Then the lines were carried around the stem ofthe ship and brought forward, the leads sinking them under the keel. After that they were hauled on board, the leads detached, the two men were tied side by side, and both ropes made fast to them, one rope being tied to the waist of one, the other rope round the shoulders of the the olher. The arrangement of the tackles was to drag the men under the ship from either side by hauling on the fall or running end of the rope and the two wretches, being led to the side, were shoved overboard. They both screamed as they fell into the water, and as the di tance from the gangway to the surface was quite fourteen feet, they must have been more or less hurt. But this was only the beginning of their miseries. The men on one side hauled taut tbe rope underneath the ship, and then the order to ' walk away' was given. The band played a solemn tune something like the ( Carnival of Venice'

in movement, except the tune was changed, and stamp, stamp, stamp, went the men. We saw the two Wretches go under, and then the only movement was the ropes going through the blocks, one side paying out, the other coming in, bufc slowly. We had uo measurement of the ship, but as the rope acted directly — that is, there were no moving blocks — the distance around the bottom was exactly that covered by the men as they walked the deck drawing the rope behind them. Thus we were able to make some estimate ofthe distance, and we calculated ifc at fifty feet from surface to surface. Presently the two men appeared on the other side. They were hauled quite out of the water, and the rope by which they were hoisted was made fast and ready to pay out again. An officer — probably a doctor — went down and examined them. The one upon whom the strain of the rope had fallen was apparently lifeless. His face was turned towards us, it was bleeding and torn, his clothes were hanging in shreds, and his hands were dripping with blood. His eyes were open, but they seemed to be filled with blood. The ship's bottom covered with barnacles, rasped upon the poor wretches like nails. The other man appeared to be conscious. His back, as he hung in tlie air, was towards us, but he moved his head, we thought, and apparently o beg for mercy. Evidently the officer reported them still alive, for when be had come on deck again the two men were lowered into the water, and the crew manning the rope that led up from the other side, marched away with it, and once more the victims disappeared. From the time they went under the surface of the water till they reappeared at the other side ofthe ship was just 24 seconds. It seemed to us to have been an hour. The first frightful journey had terminated by their being scratched aud torn ; at the end of the second they were mutilated. The nose of one wretch was torn almost away, and the shreds of the clothing he had worn clung to him only by his bonds. He was blood literally from head to foot. His companion's condition was equally horrible. Thia time tbey were hauled up to the, rail and swung on board. Then we could see something of the action of this barbarous punishment, for they were not held off the ship, but were scraped up along the ship, striking against the ringbolts, chain?, and every cruel obstruction until they swung in free over the deck. Then they were lowered down and released. They were both unconscious, probably even then dead. It may be hoped they were. Death mu6t have been a welcome release. An enquiry into tbe facts made on board the ship elicited the reply that it was not a matter of public concern. Nevertheless, we were offered coffee and cigarettes. It is needless to siy that we did not accept either. For my part I should have rather seen the ship's company shot than accept any hospitality at the hands of its officers."

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NEM18821209.2.15.1

Bibliographic details

A HORRIBLE SIGHT., Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XVII, Issue 280, 9 December 1882

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1,249

A HORRIBLE SIGHT. Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XVII, Issue 280, 9 December 1882

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