Pacific war trial-conclusion

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There were 19 cases brought up for medical experiments at Truk. (Most people have only heard of these abominable acts from the Nazis.) Another was held for the slaughter of 98 Pan American airline employees on Wake Island in 1943. And ten others were sentenced to death; 18 were convicted of murdering civilians in the Palaus.

Upon Japan’s surrender, the Allies began organizing war crimes investigations and prosecutions throughout Asia. At the Tokyo Trial, the Allies prosecuted only 28 high-ranking ‘Class A’ suspects from various government and military departments on charges linked to the waging of war and war crimes. Hundreds of lower-ranking ‘Class B’ and ‘Class C’ suspects of diverse ranks were prosecuted at other Allied trials operating across Asia.

The gallows for 18 prisoners charged w/ crimes at Changi, 1946

It is hard to arrive at the exact number of Allied trials held in Asia, as there continues to be access restrictions to some national trial records. Some latest estimates of the number of war crimes trials held by different national authorities in Asia are as follows: China (605 trials), the US (456 trials), the Netherlands (448 trials), Britain (330 trials), Australia (294 trials), the Philippines (72 trials), and France (39 trials). In 1956, China prosecuted another four cases involving 1062 defendants, out of which 45 were sentenced and the rest acquitted. The Allies conducted these trials before military courts pursuant to national laws of the Allied Power concerned. Altogether 2244 war crimes prosecutions were conducted in Asia. 5700 defendants were prosecuted: 984 defendants were executed; 3419 sentenced to imprisonment; and 1018 acquitted.

JAPANESE WAR CRIMES TRIAL IN SINGAPORE (SE 6985) Lieutenant Nakamura, his head covered with a white hood, is led to the scaffold where he will be hung after being found guilty of beheading an Indian soldier with his sword on the Pulau Islands, 14 March 1946. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

The British conducted national war crimes trials (the Singapore Trials) pursuant to a 1945 Royal Warrant adopted by the British executive under royal prerogative powers (1945 Royal Warrant). The British military was given the responsibility of implementing these trials in different locations across Asia and Europe.  330 trials were organized by the British military in Asia. Of these, 131 trials were conducted in Singapore.

As of mid-1946, the British military had established 12 war crimes courts in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Rangoon, Hong Kong, and Borneo. Eight of 12 courts established were located in Singapore. There were also ‘travelling courts’ that made their way to particular locations to hear a case.

Singapore served as the base for the British military’s war crimes investigations and prosecutions in Asia. Investigations were conducted out of Goodwood Park Hotel. Post-war conditions in Singapore posed many challenges to the organizing of these trials. There was a shortage of food, basic necessities, and qualified personnel in post-war Singapore.

Trials conducted in Singapore concerned not only Japanese military atrocities perpetrated in Singapore but those committed in other parts of Asia

A substantial number of trials addressed the abuse and neglect of POWs and civilian detainees in prisons and camps, such as Changi Prison, Sime Road Prison, Outram Road Gaol, and Selarang Barracks.

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