35-man court may be set up on war crimes (12-27-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (December 26, 1943)

35-man court may be set up on war crimes

Plan for trying of Hitler and others to be ready early next year
By Leo S. Disher, United Press staff writer

London, England (UP) – (Dec. 25)
The first detailed draft of a plan for establishment of an international court to try Adolf Hitler and other war criminals is likely to be submitted early next year to the United Nations Commission investigating war crimes, it was learned today.

The plan, it was understood, foresees creation of a court of 35 international jurists in London with powers to try any war criminals, including heads of states.

The draft plan of 62 articles was drawn by a Belgian judge, Marcel de Baer, who is in the United States at present. He is chairman of an unofficial body known as the “International Assembly” whose experts in the past two years have been studying the question of bringing war criminals to justice.

Defines war crimes

The draft defines war crimes as:

Any grave outrages violating the general principles of criminal law as recognized by civilized nations and committed in wartime or connected with the preparation, waging or prosecution of war or perpetuated with a view to preventing the restoration of peace.

It was learned that it states war crimes could be committed either by direct action or by aiding or ordering them.

According to this plan, the international court would try war criminals, including the heads of states, when domestic courts of any United Nations would be without jurisdiction or unable to handle such trials themselves. The language of the court would be English.

Plan seven-year terms

Thirty-five judges, primarily authorities of international law, would have a seven-year term and be eligible for reelection. The president and vice president each would have two-year term.

The court, it was understood, would have a body of “international constabulary” available to execute its orders. Hearings would be public, but the judges’ deliberations would be private and decisions would be reached by a majority vote.

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