The world-wide concern over the fate of Sacco and Vanzetti has stirred renewed interest in what has been termed “Britain’s own Sacco-Vanzetti ease.” an Associated Press despatch from London states.
Oscar Slater, a German Jew and an alien, was condemned to death eighteen years ago by a majority vote of nine to six by a Scottish jury on evidence which many investigators claim was faulty and inconclusive. His alleged crime was beating a defenseless old woman to death, presumably for the purpose of robbery, but the feeling was so strong that his guilt had not been proved that the sentence was commoted to life imprisonment, and Slater spent eighteen years in Peterhead Jail.
Despite the repeated attempts to get the ease reconsidered. Slater is still in prison and at present there appears little likelihood of further official inquiry.
A great mass of literature has ?rung up around the Slater case. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote an exhaustive booklet on the trial and more recently a volume. “The Truth About Oscar Slater.” which goes more fully into the history of the affair.
Slater appears to have been a frequenter of gambling dens and low saloons and had few friends in Great Britain when he was arrested. He had been in Glasgow only a few weeks when the crime was committed and a little later went to New York, where he volunteered to return to Scotland for trial.
The evidence largely hinged on identification by eye witnesses, the main one being a housemaid who saw the murderer run from the house at night.
There are aspects in the case similar to the Sacco-Vanzetti affair including criticism than the conduct of the trial was unjudicial and inconsistent with the best traditions of the bar. While nothing has been done about the Slater case officially, the Sacco-Vanzetti proccedings have given rise to new agitation in which a number of prominent individuals have interested themselves, as well as newspapers and other periodicals.