Volume 95, Issue 41

Wednesday, November 14, 2001
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Embattled head soph speaks

USC bails out SSSC

W-kids battle WIN in "pimping" showdown

Legal complications of Holocaust discussed

LHSC cutbacks hurt students

Alliance rebels seize Afghan capital

Off-campus kids have guardian angels

Legal complications of Holocaust discussed

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

With haunting stories of the Holocaust still relevant today, several law experts spoke about its legal aftershocks last night at Western's Josephine Spencer Niblett building.

Representing various backgrounds, five speakers discussed the legal battles that have taken place in hopes of providing the victims of genocide some form of retribution – from the Nuremberg trials to victim insurance claims.

Burdened by time – it's been over 50 years since the end of World War II – and decaying evidence, all five conceded the process has proved to be excruciatingly challenging.

"The law is like roulette, it's very sporadic in its success," said University of Toronto law professor Ed Morgan, who has produced many publications on international law.

Of the 19 criminal cases Canadian prosecutors have brought to trials against war criminals lying in order to enter the country, only six resulted in conviction, according to Terry Beitner, a director for Justice Canada.

Three of the cases ended in acquittals, while ten of the cases never made it to trial.

"It's been difficult gathering evidence," Beitner said. "The evidence is deteriorating and the quality of the memories of the witnesses is fading."

Nuremberg prosecutor Henry King provided a detailed history of the legal events that proceeded the Holocaust. He said the keys to the trials' success were Nazi documents that detailed their actions.

"They thought they were going to win and they did the documents for Hitler to show him they were doing his bidding," the 1943 Yale graduate said. "We read the documents in trial and convicted them in their own words."

King said the most important step in international law will be the establishment of permanent International Criminal Court, an idea not supported by the United States because of concerns it may backfire and punish U.S. soldiers without American consent.

"It would be the perfect place to try Osama bin Laden for crimes against humanities," King said.

Morgan conceded the wrongdoing of the Holocaust will never be remedied, despite efforts to bring legal justice.

"In the end, it takes more than lawyers to actually make sense of this all."

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Copyright The Gazette 2001