Friday, May 04, 2012

On Prosecuting Elderly War Criminals

 Bernie Farber has a new piece on Huffpo.  He says it better than I could:

The hunting down of war criminals sends a universal message that such unspeakable crimes will not be tolerated by a civil society. It tells potential perpetrators that there is no place to hide; that they will be hunted for the rest of their lives. 


brennerman said...

Thanks for this article. It makes it easier to grapple with the elderly men we see accused of horrible crimes and the need to ensure punishment.

Anonymous said...

My hesitation is about prosecuting men who are now in their mid to late 80s over crimes, however horrific, which they committed when they were in their late teens or early 20s when they may have been completely different, and not fully mature people. The travesty is that so many senior Nazis were able to get away after the war either because they were somehow perceived as useful to the west during the Cold War or because of the indifference that set in within a few years of VE Day. That inexcusable failure can hardly be made up now by going after the very junior people who survived this long.

brennerman said...

Anonymous, they were adults who made adult choices. Should we decline to prosecute, the alleged murderer of eight year old Tori Stafford, Terri Lynn McLintic simply because she is in her twenties?

Just because someone got away with murder for years or because others were not punished does not mean that where the facts support a prosecution we should turn our heads.

Anonymous said...

That's the problem. In most of the cases on SWC's Top Ten they have been either found unfit to be tried due to old age and ill health or a court has either failed to extradite or convict for lack of evidence or any sentence has been essentially set aside due to illness and old age. Lack of evidence not because the crimes did not occur but because witnesses have died, evidence has gone missing and in some cases the authorities can't absolutely establish a positive identification. It's always going to be hard to convict anyone of anything 65 years after the fact.

I would be thrilled if Brunner and Heim were caught and prosecuted but both of them would be centenarians if they're still alive - the likelihood is they both died in the 1990s and even if they were still alive it's unlikely any 100 year old would be fit to stand trial.