Torture and the Trial
The Amboyna conspiracy trial became a source of bitter dispute when news of what had happened reached Europe in May 1624. For centuries, English and Dutch writers have traded blows over the guilt or innocence of the alleged conspirators and the positions taken by the two sides are explored in the What’s your verdict section of the site. One reason why the controversy has continued for so long was because the trial was so badly botched and the presiding legal official, the Advocate-fiscal Issaq de Bruyn, has come under intense criticism. A second reason for this ongoing controversy centers on the use of torture to extract confessions and the case has a striking contemporary resonance as it involves the first use of the ‘torture by water’ or waterboarding in a major international legal case. The two sides fought over the legality and the efficacy of waterboarding in a way that would anticipate the ferocious debate that played out over techniques of so-called ‘enhanced interrogation’ that were authorized by the Bush administration and deployed at Guantanamo and other CIA sites around the globe.