Photo: Flickr/Alex Clark
If the U.S. were to execute soldiers for war crimes as defence Secretary Leon Panetta suggests, napping while on duty might land soldiers on death row.
“Neglect of sentry duty,” apparently a crime equal to that of mutiny, espionage, rape and murder, is punishable by death. In 1918, The New York Times reported that a ruling in trial of four soldiers, who had fallen asleep while on duty in France during World War I, defined the offence and its punishment as follows:
“Any sentinel who is found drunk or sleeping upon his post, or who leaves it before he is regularly relieves, shall, of the offence be committed in time of war, suffer death or such other punishment as a court martial may decree.”
Similarly, according to Martha M. Boltz of The Washington Times, a sentinel stationed at Fort Marcy during the Civil War received a death sentence for sleeping while on duty. His sentence was later reduced by President Abraham Lincoln.
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