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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                     Nov. 17, 1995, V3, #210
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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New Book Discusses the Human Drama of Nuremberg Trials

By Nancy Beardsley (VOA-Washington)

When the UN established tribunals to investigate war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, it had legal precedent in another historic trial, launched 50 years ago this month.

On Nov. 20, 1945, A group of Nazi officials went before a newly created international court in the German city of Nuremberg, charged with the murder of millions of Jews and other minorities. That court had no precedents to rely on--no established laws, punishments, not even a clear justification for its existence. American biographer and historian Joseph Persico details the challenges faced by those who conducted the year-long trial--and the legacy they left behind--in a book entitled "Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial."

Joseph Persico was 15 years old when World War 2 ended and the Nuremberg Trial began. Persico says one image would remain forever etched in his memory from that time. It was a photograph of the body of Nazi defendant Hermann Goering, who managed to swallow a cyanide tablet just before his scheduled execution. That picture first sparked his interest in the trial and eventually prompted him to write a book, one that would examine Nuremberg in a new light:

"There are a number of excellent books on Nuremberg. The reaction I came away with was that they were very solid legal treatises dealing with the judicial controversies the trial aroused. What I did not find in any of the literature on the trial was the human drama that took place there in addition to the obvious contest of prosecution versus defense. And that's the story I've tried to tell."

Much of the drama grew out of the need to create an entire legal system out of thin air. But there were smaller conflicts and controversies as well--over official titles, lodgings, even courtroom chair size--all of which caused dissension within national delegations and among countries.

Persico also notes that those who conducted the Nuremberg trial had to deal with charges they were relying on ex post facto law, creating penalties for war crimes only after they'd been committed. The legal machinery for such a trial is now written into the UN charter--a lasting testimony to the energy and vision of those who gathered at Nuremberg 50 years ago.
Amir Reenacts Assassination at Murder Scene

Yigal Amir reenacted the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin after being brought to Yitzhak Rabin Square in Tel Aviv under heavy guard Wednesday night. Passersby shouted words of condemnation at the assassin.

Ha'aretz reports the police are likely to question more of Amir's peers in the coming days in order to clarify whether he had other partners who knew of his intentions or who helped plan the assassination.

The widening of the investigation comes in the wake of Wednesday's arrest of Margalit Har-Shefi, 20, of Beit El, one of Yigal Amir's friends who is also a law student at Bar-Ilan University. Har-Shefi -- whose uncle is Zu Artzenu leader Rabbi Benny Elon -- is suspected of encouraging Amir to assassinate Rabin. Har-Shefi's incarceration was extended by 12 days on Wednesday by a Petah Tikvah magistrate court.

The newspaper quoted sources involved in the investigation as saying that Har-Shefi knew of the plot from the outset and even played a more active role. In requesting an extension of Har-Shefi's incarceration, A police officer explained that "an investigation which began with what was apparently an attack carried out by a single assassin, has widened into the investigation of the underground organization of several people the size of an orderly, planned, and methodical organization."

Interior Minister Prevents Extremist's Entry into Israel

Interior Minister Ehud Barak has denied entry into for a member of the extreme right Kach movement. Barak says he exercised authority in accordance with the Law of Return and the Law of Entry to extremists liable to breach the public peace and threaten the country's security from entering Israel. The decision was accepted in accordance with a detailed General Security Service report, which began considering this issue several months ago following consultations with professional and legal advisors.

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