CONTROVERSY FOLLOWS COLLAPSE OF BRITAIN’S FIRST WAR CRIMES TRIAL.

Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 13

Britain’s first attempt to hold a war crimes trial was abandoned last week after doctors for the defense said Szymon Serafinowicz, 86, was suffering from senile dementia and was unable to defend himself. Serafinowicz had been accused of murdering three Jews in Nazi-occupied Belorussia. This was the first such trial to be staged since Parliament changed the law in 1991 and allowed prosecution for war crimes committed outside the United Kingdom. The collapse of last week’s trial has reignited debate in Britain over whether trials should be held after such a long period. Supporters say the crimes involved were so monstrous that they must be brought to justice regardless of how much time has elapsed. Of 100 possible prosecutions, however, the British legal authorities have now abandoned all but five. They are nevertheless reported to be preparing to bring another case to court, in which the accused is 13 years younger than Serafinowicz and in good mental health. The crimes of which he is accused were also committed in wartime Belorussia. (BBC, January 17)

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