A Case From Australia's War Crimes Trials: Lieutenant-General Nishimura, 1950

Lisa Lee

Abstract


In the aftermath of World War II, Australia undertook domestic trials of suspected Japanese war criminals between 1945 and 1951. This article focuses on Australia’s war crimes trial of Lieutenant-General Nishimura as held at the Los Negros court in mid-June 1950, and the subsequent petitioning period and confirmation process. The Australian war crimes courts were military courts vested with broad discretionary powers that facilitated the expeditious trials of accused. The procedure of war crimes courts differed from that of field general courts-martial in two main areas: admissible evidence and sentencing range — and this article highlights concomitant problems arising during the trial and subsequent case on review. This article examines the prosecution of the case entirely on documentary evidence; the impact of low admissibility thresholds for evidence; issues regarding the voluntariness and reliability of witness evidence; and the option of capital punishment in the Nishimura trial.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21153/dlr2013vol18no2art42

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