A giant tortoise named Gladys has appeared on trial in the Hague for war crimes. The tortoise, now aged 225 years old and restricted to a wheelchair, could not speak to record her name. It is thought she might only live a few more decades and may not live to see the end of her trial.
The tortoise was a regimental mascot for Napoleon Bonaparte's 3rd Fusiliers regiment, and took part in invasions of Prussia and Russia. The death tolls from these invasions which can be traced to that regiment are disputed but estimated to be in the thousands. Lawyers will attempt to argue that they can be classified as genocide using modern legal definitions.
Although there are no claims that the tortoise killed anyone itself, it is argued that the site of the tortoise advancing towards the enemy would have spread fear, surprise and bewilderment. This would have lead to increased casualties and possibly a few heart attacks. Giant tortoises were not a common feature of armies in the 18th century and were later banned as a "weapon of mass confusion" at the Treaty of Galapagos in 1834.
Gladys is the oldest living creature yet to be put on trial for war crimes, although next month begins the trial of a fossilised elephant foetus alleged to have belonged to Hannibal of Carthage, who famously crossed the Alps and defeated the Romans.
If Gladys is found guilty, she will be sentenced to be hanged, drawn, quartered, boiled, lightly spiced and served with a light aperitif.