Princip was sitting disconsolately at a café, nursing an espresso and a grudge, when the motorcade rolled to a stop in front of him. He couldn’t believe his luck; they’d all gone to ground after the failure of the bombing, written the day off as a loss, and yet here the occupiers were, almost on a platter in front of him, blocked in by traffic at one end of the street and their own motorcade at the other, the top of their convertible open to the sky. Fate, perhaps; what else could one think?
He walked across the street and shot them both, as casually as that, one in the belly, the other in the neck, bang bang done.
Too young to hang, they chained him to a wall and gave him tuberculosis, cut him down when he tried to hang himself, made him talk to a psychiatrist to try to reconcile him to their view of his actions. “He refuses to accept responsibility for his actions,” they write, as though he couldn’t feel his lungs being eaten away, as though they hadn’t amputated the arm that had held the gun, as though he weren’t in exile.
Of the 20 years on his sentence, he served only 3; tuberculosis and malnourishment took longer than a noose but were no less certain. The empire survived him by just six months.