French Revolutionary Claude Javogues was shot on this date in 1796.
The son of an ancien regime royal castellan, the barrister Javogues would have the opportunity in the revolutionary Convention to vote the death of the old man’s boss, and he did not miss his chance.
Pour préserver les âmes pusillanimes de l’amour de la tyrannie, je vote pour la mort dans les vingt-quatre heures. (“To preserve pusillanimous souls from the love of tyranny, I vote for death within twenty-four hours.”)
The guy wasn’t above getting his own hands dirty in the bloody work of revolution, either, and ran his own local revolutionary terror in his home town of Feurs. (A Chapel of the Martyrs in Feurs pays homage to the 80 victims of Javogues’s Terror.) Even so, he had his own brush with the Committee of Public Safety and stood in some danger for a time of being one of the children devoured by the revolution.
Instead, it was the subsequent Thermidorean Reaction that did for Javogues when he was suspected of complicity in the radicals’ Conspiracy of Equals.
He had the distinction in parting to be shot by a firing detail commanded by one Leopold Hugo — eventually (come 1802) the father of one Victor Hugo.
On this date in 1989, six men went to Malaysia’s gallows for orchestrating a notorious prison revolt three years earlier.
The Pudu Prison siege began on October 17, 1986, when the inmates in question rushed a prison clinic, taking hostage a doctor and a laboratory technician using improvised shanks. For nearly six tense days, the desperados held the medics to ransom in the former British colonial gaol, demanding their own release along with getaway cars and cash.
The ringleader was one Jimmy Chua (pictured at right), a former policeman turned gangland figure who had been detained on a murder charge; accomplices Ng Lai Huat, Sin Ah Lau , Lam Hock Sung, Yap Chee Keong, and Phang Boon Ho were all in prison on various firearms violations. The intrinsic impossibility of their position was underscored over the course of the siege, as Kuala Lumpur gawkers began to join the armed soldiery surrounding the jail: the prisoners who had made themselves centers of attention did not dare trust food sent by the guards, eating only the dwindling provisions that were left on hand at the time of their clinic attack. So how exactly were they ever going to come to an endgame where they would trust assurances to walk out the gates to a mystery car?
This distant hypothetical never crested the horizon, because with the help of a signal from another inmate, Malaysian special forces were able to slip into the facility while the prisoners’ guard was down and take the lot by storm, unharmed and without firing a shot. That meant everyone was around to face trial for kidnapping, which just so happened to carry a maximum sentence of death by hanging despite the absence of a fatality.