Alex Schmid, born in Chur, Switzerland, in 1943. Ph.D. from the University of Zürich. Director of the Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI), Vienna.
Fellow (1 September 2010 – 30 June 2011)
How Courts Deal with Political Offenders
While at NIAS, I will investigate how courts in a number of countries have been dealing with political offenders in the recent past and how those accused of acts of terrorism have performed in courts. While the NIAS Theme Group “Terrorists on Trial. The Court Room as a Stage in the Struggle for Publicity, Public Support and Legitimacy” will encompass a number of in-depth case studies on terrorists in court, my own project seeks to provide an overarching framework for the collective NIAS project, and will explore a number of issues that tie them together. I will also look at some fundamental underlying issue like the concepts of ‘justice’ and ‘political crime’. Based on primary and secondary sources and the responses to a questionnaire, my study seeks to highlight the clash between the justice meted out by courts and the feeling of injustice that motivates terrorists. I will explore how this conflict is played out during trials by analysing how the terrorists and their lawyers on the one hand, and the public prosecutor and his/her team on the other hand, address and deal with issues of ‘justice’ and ‘injustice’ in front of the various audiences present at trials – the jury, the public, the press and the victims. While doing this, I will take into account additional political and social actors and factors that impact on the production of ‘justice’ and the performance in courts.