60th anniversary of Nuremberg trials marked

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

View of the defendants with Göring, Heß, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Wilhelm Keitel in the front row.

The city of Nuremberg has marked the 60th anniversary of the opening of the trials against Nazi war criminals.

At a ceremony in the Palace of Justice, where the tribunal was located, participants of the trials gathered and remembered. Whitney R. Harris, a member of the U.S. prosecution team, emphazised the importance of Nuremberg for contemporary international law claiming that "the principles of the Nuremberg case have been followed in recent years and the fact that we conducted Nuremberg has given impetus to the establishment of these more recent tribunals". But the president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Philippe Kirsch, is frustrated that there is still opposition against modern international tribunals like his court: "The spectre of politically motivated prosecution which is a running theme against the ICC is so unfounded that it is to me intellectually difficult to understand".

On November 20, 1945 the trials began in the courtroom 600 of the Palace of Justice. A total of 24 defendants were tried, among them Hermann Göring and Rudolf Heß. With Geoffrey Lawrence being chair of the court, the trial took 218 days and ended with 12 death sentences, 7 jail terms and 3 acquittals. One defendant killed himself during the trial, another one was declared unfit to stand trial.

Some controversy does exist as to whether the Nuremberg Principles have been adhered to in the years following the trials. Noted intellectual author, Noam Chomsky, has claimed that all US presidents since the end of the war would be judged to be war criminals according to these principles.

Sources

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