Historian says Morant does not deserve pardon

Historians in the News

A petition to pardon Australian Boer War soldiers Breaker Morant and Peter Handcock is feeding off their myth as folk heroes instead of their reality as cold-blooded killers, an historian says....

Craig Wilcox, author of Australia's Boer War: The War in South Africa, says Morant and Handcock should not be honoured with a pardon for their war crimes.

"I've got a gloomy view of the man himself and his elevation as a folk hero. Those who don't share that view are blind to his crimes," the historian said.

"Lining up civilians by the roadside and killing them, that's just not right.

"My gut reaction is that they shouldn't be pardoned."

No one has questioned Morant and Handcock's guilt, including the petition's authors.

But writer Nick Bleszynski, who prepared the petition with military lawyer Commander James Unkles, says the pair were used as scapegoats by the British army and were only following orders.

"The issue isn't what he did or didn't do, but even a murderer in a democracy deserves justice," Mr Bleszynski told AAP.

"If you're going to condemn Morant and Handcock, then you have to condemn many others as well."

Historians are also split on whether the men were following orders by Lord Kitchener, a leader with a ruthless reputation, or acting on their own....

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