We asked Judge Goldstone to confirm the report in Yediot that as a judge in the South African court of appeal, he sentenced 28 people to death. Here is what he had to say:
I have seen a translation of today's "preview" in Yediot. The facts relating to the death penalty are:
1. During the nine years I was a trial judge from 1980 to 1989, I sentenced two people to death for murder without extentuating circumstances. They were murders committed gratuitously during armed robberies. In the absence of extenuating circumstances the imposition of the death sentence was mandatory. My two assessors and I could find no extenuating circumstances in those two cases.
2. While I was a judge in the Supreme Court of Appeal from 1990 to 1994, all executions were put on hold. However, automatic appeals still continued to come before the Supreme Court of appeal. We sat in panels of three and again, in the absence of extenuating circumstances, some of those appeals failed.
3. It was a difficult moral decision taking an appointment during the Apartheid era. With regard to my role in those years I would refer you to the joint public statement issues in January by former Chief. Justice Arthur Chaskalson (the first CJ appointed by President Mandela) and George Bizos, (Nelson Mandela's lawyer and close friend for over 50 years). The statement was published in full by the South African Jewish Report on about 23 January...
Finally, I would say that these events took place 25 - 30 years ago. At that time a number of democracies had not abolished the death sentence. I do not understand why my actions as a judge im those years precludes me from campaigning today against the death sentence or precludes me from judging war crimes whether committed in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda or the Middle East.
Other of the Yediot allegations are either false or distorted.