The treatment of prisoners has long been a point of contention across the galaxy, as varied cultures with divergent legal systems often differ over what punishments are just and fair. In cases where governmental jurisdiction is well established, the laws and systems of that government prevail with little recourse for outside actors to influence outcomes. However, in areas where jurisdiction is not as clear cut, there is a fine line between the rule of law and lawlessness.
The Galactic Empire declared the Hosnian system within the Byblos Sector to be their rightful territory. The Empire views anyone captured during the act of claiming lands or building non-approved facilities to be guilty of high crimes against the Empire. High Crimes are punishable by execution within the Imperial Criminal Code. Imperials consider the act of building within their territory to be an attack upon the Empire itself.
In addition to executing builders captured by Imperial forces, the Empire has allowed a non-Imperial Union Government, The Faerytail Family, to perform those arrests and summary executions on their behalf. No trials or judges are required; simply execution upon capture.
There is some question whether allowing another Government to act as judge and executioner within their claimed territory undermines the authority claimed by the Empire. If the Empire cannot provide the basic services expected of a government in the system without granting another government full authority over some of these services, how solid is their claim to that territory?
On the other hand, do Imperials captured by the Zann Consortium, the New Republic or Galactic Alliance forces fare any better? For Imperial General Fede Vonrico, the methods used by Zann certainly appeared to be the same as those the Empire has employed when the General’s capture by Zann lead to a swift execution.
Previous incidents, such as the fallout from the gruesomely publicized Varro Belle execution, illustrate that the Galactic Alliance hardly has a single concept of justice and punishment among its members. However, in the Hosnian system, it appears that the allied governments opposing the Empire are following the Republic’s lead in terms of prisoner handling. But what is the Republic’s actual policy with regards to handling prisoners?
The recent report by the New Republic’s state-controlled media statement confirms that Imperials are being arrested and held, as opposed to executed. However, independent sources on the ground have noted that some of the New Republic’s transports collecting arrested builders are delayed, and that not all of their captives can be immediately collected for safe transport out of the system. There have been verified reports of kill squads supported by Zann murdering builders under arrest by Alliance forces within system. Although it appears that it is not the Republic’s intent to have their prisoners killed, the fact remains that some have been killed following their arrest, due to not being processed expediently enough. This appears to be a case of Alliance forces being less familiar with executing the Republic’s policies and the large volume of detainees, rather than an intentional act on the part of the Alliance or the Republic. The tentative truce between Zann and The Republic also makes one wonder how accidental these murders may be.
Beyond the rank and file, the Republic is currently holding at least four imperial officers in custody, including Captain Mark Inkster, Major Ron Mueirech, Lieutenant Adam Linon and Lieutenant Commander Du`bas Tyra. Captain Inkster, the first of these officers to be detained, has been held for more than five weeks by Republic forces at this point. The most we have been told is that the state-controlled news agency will post a story. While pressing NRI Director Adam Hughes for a timeline on when we might receive an update from the Republic News Network on Captain Inkster, Hughes replied, “Once it is allowed to do so.”
It appears that Captain Inkster was safely taken off planet, and therefore is likely still alive, but we await word of his condition. The vague wording in the recent press release stating that some captives in Republic custody had “given up on life” combined with the indications of failed negotiations between the Empire and the Republic for a prisoner exchange certainly clouds the future for these individuals. The Empire has apparently refused to deal with any organizations holding their commanding officers. In addition to the apparently failed talks with the New Republic, the deals struck for the return of two other Imperial officers in the custody of the Eidola Pirates, were handled privately using personally owned assets. In both cases, Imperial officers parted with pets from their personal menageries as part exchange. In total, a dewback, a rancor, over 70 million credits and other items allegedly comprise the ransoms paid for Imperial Intelligence Agent Vladamiur Veselov and Captain Olifa Omicron.
The New Republic has refused to answer any questions on these detainees, or admit they even exist to any outside media sources, therefore, it is unlikely that friends and relatives of the captured servicemen have learned of their fate prior reports provided by Shili Free Press and other independent sources, as both Imperial and Republic officials are tight lipped about any matters within the war zone. We recently were made aware of a New Republic officer, Carmen Sundane, having been arrested by the Empire. As the Republic did, the Empire also has refused to comment on the status of their captive.
For a broader opinion discussing non-combatants in war zones, rather than commissioned officers, we discussed the issue of captured personnel with Belloq Tull, a member of the Wraiths, a band of hardened mercenaries that have historically been involved in numerous prominent skirmishes across the galaxy. I asked him specifically about the thousands of builders he has captured and detained without executing during the Hosnian campaign so far. When discussing the reasoning for securing construction teams, as opposed to killing them, he provided this quote to summarize his views:
“Too many commanders here, and in other war zones like Vectinia recently, feel it is more prudent to treat unarmed workers as armed combatants. Executing them in cold blood, citing the location of a war zone as a justification for treating civilians with no military training or weapons as soldiers in combat. Yes, it is more difficult and inconvenient to relocate these workers and care for them while the conflict rages. However, we have plenty of ships to take care of these beings. I am sure commanders with Lucrehulk and Strike-class ships at their disposal could do the same, if they chose.”
I asked Belloq about the long-term plans and outcomes for these builders he currently holds, and his mood appeared to turn sad. “No doubt, these builders face a tough future, still. The Galactic Empire will likely have little desire to repatriate them. Many have already received word of the termination of their contracts”.
If the Empire was unwilling to even negotiate for the return of their officers, I hold out little hope that the Empire will spare a moment’s thought for these non-commissioned individuals whom they ferried across space to serve the whims of a Moff and Emperor, only to be cast aside, when their usefulness had ended.
For those captured and escorted out of Hosnian instead of being killed, what will become of them? Hired by their government, uprooted from family and friends, escorted across hyperspace, dispersed with orders across the Hosnian system, and winding up in handcuffs, shipped away once again and placed in unfamiliar territory. Even if governmental control of the planets in the Hosnian system is nearly settled, the lives of thousands will have been irreparably changed, even if only some are still around to pick up the pieces and continue. Hopefully their meager offerings in faith, wishes upon their lucky charms, or silent prayers to their gods will deliver them some measure of safety and peace.
This is Lahasa Fy, for Shili Free Press, wishing you good luck, and hoping you say safe.