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Jean-Baptiste Victor Sipido (20 December 1884 – 20 August 1959[1]) was a Belgian anarchist who became known when he, then a young tinsmith's apprentice, attempted to assassinate the Prince of Wales at the Brussel-Nord railway station in Brussels on April 5, 1900 [2].

Accusing the Prince of causing the slaughter of thousands during the Boer War in South Africa, the fifteen-year-old leaped onto the foot board of the royal compartment right before the train left the station, and fired two shots through the window. Sipido missed everyone inside and was quickly wrestled to the ground.[3]

The assassination attempt and the following trial is notable mostly for the acquittal of Sipido, despite the facts of the case being mostly clear but based on his being below the age of sixteen. The jury "held that by reason of his age he had not acted with discernment and could not be considered doli capaux" or legally responsible. The court did not even detain Sipido in a reformatory. [4] After the trial, Sipido immediately crossed the border to France.

The acquittal caused a very hostile reaction from Britain with the Leader of the British House of Commons calling it a "grave and most unfortunate miscarriage of justice"[5]

Sipido ended his working life as technical and commercial director of the General Society of Belgian Socialist Cooperatives, later retiring to Cagnes in the Department of Alpes-Maritimes in France.[6]

Notes

  1. ^ Alexandre Notebaert in Biographie nationale, vol. 42 (1981), p. 662.
  2. ^ The Manchester Guardian, Thursday April 5, 1900
  3. ^ The assassination attempt is described in the memoirs of Harold Brust, then a member of the Royal Bodyguard: I Guarded Kings: The Memoirs of a Political Officer, Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2005 (paperback reprint of the 1936 edition published by Hillman-Curl Inc, U.S.A.), chapter 5.
  4. ^ Summarized by Speyer in "The Legal Aspects of the Sipido Case", Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation 1900, p. 436.
  5. ^ Speyer, p. 438.
  6. ^ Alexandre Notebaert in Biographie nationale, vol. 42 (1981), p. 678.

References

  • Brust, Harold, I Guarded Kings: The Memoirs of a Political Officer, Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2005 (reprint of the 1936 edition published by Hillman-Curl Inc, U.S.A.). Available on Google Books.
  • Notebaert, Alexandre, in Biographie nationale, vol. 42 (1981), pp. 662-679.
  • Speyer, ["Dr Speyer", no given name appears in the journal], "The Legal Aspects of the Sipido Case", Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation 1900, pp. 434-439.
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