New Year's greetings from Russian President to killer

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Sergey Romanov
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Post by Sergey Romanov » 11 Jan 2005 14:11

REIGO
The "Pravda" article is surely biased and as a matter of fact so is Sergey Romanov.


Is the personal remark necessary? Of course, I can also state that Reigo is biased, and I would be as (in)correct as Reigo, but what that would prove?

At first, it is said that the partisans were "scouts" group, but at the same time they had this one year boy with them. (?) One can only wonder why this boy was taken along to scouting.


Probably Reigo has a difficulty understanding Russian language. The article reads:

On 29 Feb. 1944 the partisan group, 12 scouts, escorting one-year-old son of the commander of the partisan unit Chugunov [my emphasis - SR], stopped for a short rest in the village Malyje Baty in Latgalia. The partisans were betrayed, surrounded and destroyed in a battle. The child has died too.


So the article's claim is that it was their mission to escort this child. There is no contradiction except in Reigo's biased head.

Then it is said that these scouts were "betrayed" surrounded and destroied in battle. Now Sergey Romanov, please explain how is this a "murder"? Weren't there even according to Pravda article a battle?


Er, if the victim battles before the murder, (s)he is no longer a victim?

Here's how the "battle" is described in another source:

http://www.souz.co.il/israel/read.html?id=566

They knocked at the house of Modest Krupnieks, who fed them and let them sleep in a barn. Having ascertained that the partisans were asleep, he told about them to his neighbor Buls, the head of the policemen-Shutzmann (sp?) in the village. Immediately he went for help into a neighboring village, where there was a German garrison.
In the morning the partisans were surrounded. Policemen set the barn on fire. Everybody died. Nurse Tanya with a child and telegraphist tried to break free, but they were slain by a burst of the machine-gun fire.


Surely, if this account is true, in a war-time Krupnieks, Buls and their accomplices desrved death.

It is interesting also that according to the article this destruction of scouts group happened 3 months earlier than Kononovs deeds.


Er, so what?

So in conclusion: typical BS to justify crimes.


How would such a biased person as Reigo know that?

And Sergey consider this: maybe the "partisans" were betrayed since people did not love them and their kind?


Well, surely if they loved them, they wouldn't betray them. You get 5 in binary logic, pal.

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Post by Reigo » 11 Jan 2005 14:29

Probably Reigo has a difficulty understanding Russian language


Seems so. The word "scouts" was misleading for me.

So the article's claim is that it was their mission to escort this child. There is no contradiction except in Reigo's biased head.


Hmm, I made a mistake, that's hardly biased.


Er, if the victim battles before the murder, (s)he is no longer a victim?


The partisans were armed and it was war. The policemen were their enemies. This seems to be murder only for biased ones (this was the reason I called you biased). The police shouldn't attack the partisans (no matter how they did it)?

Surely, if this account is true, in a war-time Krupnieks, Buls and their accomplices desrved death.


Why is that so? Because they destroied their enemy in war?

Er, so what?


Just interesting that partisans had to wait so long after they managed to avenge.



How would such a biased person as Reigo know that?


Surely I expressed my opinion, not knowledge.


Well, surely if they loved them, they wouldn't betray them. You get 5 in binary logic, pal.


You can't betray your enemy, pal!
Last edited by Reigo on 11 Jan 2005 14:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Lit. » 11 Jan 2005 14:40

Short notice: Where Russian "partisans" came from to Latvia? They could be partisans in Russia, but not Latvia. In occupied Latvia their status was - bandits, terrorists,... or whatever, but not "partisans".

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Post by Reigo » 11 Jan 2005 14:55

Ours avenge, they murder
Ours use cleverness, they betray
Ours are partisans, they are terrorists

Apllies for every side

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Post by Sergey Romanov » 11 Jan 2005 14:57

The partisans were armed and it was war. The policemen were their enemies. This seems to be murder only for biased ones (this was the reason I called you biased). The police shouldn't attack the partisans (no matter how they did it)?


If one is to believe the sources I cited (note how I alway say "if"), there was no reason for this particular murder. Neither there was a battle in a conventional sense - they simply burned some alive and shot others. Hardly a battle. So was this action justified? If all happened as the articles describe, no, war or not.

Just interesting that partisans had to wait so long after they managed to avenge.


What is so interesting about that? There could have been a million of reasons why the alleged revenge took place so late.

Anyway, all of this is a tempest in a teapot. I will await the judgement, if there is an English translation. My point was simple: it's not so simple as it might sound. It is entirely possible that while legally Kononov and his men were murderers, morally they were righteous. Then again, maybe not. So rhetoric about Putin (whom I strongly dislike) "congratulating the killer" should wait at least until more details are known.

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Post by Reigo » 11 Jan 2005 15:02

I actually agree with your conclusions. Also if we apply my logic to Kononov, then we will have the result that he shouldn't be accused in nothing since it was war and he killed people who were against Soviets (that is enemy). :| So I guess I was biased, but so seemed you to me. Peace?

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Post by David Thompson » 11 Jan 2005 18:05

Riego -- Avoid personal remarks in posting. From the section rules at: viewtopic.php?t=53962
A. Civility

The first rule of the forum is: "No insults are tolerated (that includes serious national and religious insults)." Personal remarks in posts are discouraged, and personal insults are forbidden here.

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Post by bratello » 11 Jan 2005 23:06

It seems that the topic shaped itself into whether Kononov is a common criminal or a bona fide anti-German partisan whose actions on May 27, 1944 were justified?

DT is right when he says: “We need to know more about the crimes this man was convicted of committing”. The court papers, if and when someone posts them, should help us “to know more”. In the meantime here are some considerations regarding two sources mentioned in the previous posts:

1) “Pravda”, i.e. “Truth” (together with “Izvestia”, i.e. “News”) for many years were two main outlets to deliver to the Soviet population the Communist Party’s interpretation of the national and international events. “There is no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvesyia” a saying went during Soviet times. When, after the USSR collapse “Pravda” newspaper was sold to Greek owners, some of the journalists left to form “Pravda.ru”. “Pravda.ru” is considered nationalist and is not associated with “Pravda”, the newspaper, which is considered “leftist”.

2) “Pravda.ru” sets the tone at the beginning of the article on Kononov when it says:

“In 1940 when Red Army came to Latvia, Vassily Kononov joined Komsomol and became the head of its local cell”. Would “occupied Latvia” be more appropriate? As to Kononov’s joining Komsomol, i.e. Young Communists League, which was actively involved in establishing the Communist regime in Latvia…well, Kononov could be a true believer at the time...

Regarding the events that lead to Kononov’s raid on Malie Baty, “Pravda” says that on February 29th, 1944, a group of 12 partisans…was “betrayed, encircled and killed during a fight. The child has died as well”. This doesn’t help much: betrayed by whom, encircled by whom, who did the partisan fight and who killed the child?

“Pravda.ru” continues by saying that three months later (on May 27th) the partisans took revenge (on whom?) by attacking and taking over Malie Baty. They liquidated a group of “polizei” (i.e. local police organized by the Germans) and chased a village woman into a burning house. According to “Pravda.ru”, the partisans knew that during February fighting she personally finished off their wounded comrades. No mentioning here of that woman being pregnant, if that was indeed the case. That is all “Pravda.ru” says about Kononov’s alleged crimes. Hardly enough to form an informed opinion.

3) According to the second source (see http://www.souz.co.il), a) Kononov was born either in 1923 (“in 1943…a 20-year old parachutist Vassily Kononov”) or in 1924 (“In July 1941, a 17-year old young man…”) when other sources give January 1st, 1922 as his D.O.B. and b) on May 27th, 1944 Kononov raided a village called (underlining mine) Bolshie Baty when all other sources call it Malie Baty. The description of the raid is vague on details and just like the one given by “Pravda.ru” leaves a lot to guessing as to the true course of events.

4) Lit.’s asks: “Where Russian "partisans" came from to Latvia?”. According to the same (compromised) source Kononov, after 5-month course in explosives in Izhevsk (USSR) was sent to Latvia to sabotage railroads and derail German trains.

5) In his last word in court, apparently to justify his actions, Kononov said (as per http://www.souz.co.il): “In time of war anybody who took up arms was your enemy. If you don’t eliminate him, he’ll kill you.”

Could it be that in February of 1944 the inhabitants of Malie Baty felt just like Kononov about "anybody who took up arms" but, after having experienced both Soviet and German occupations, still preferred the Germans to the Russians?

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Re: New Year's greetings from Russian President to killer

Post by AAA » 18 May 2010 16:01

Well the ECHR has issued their final judgement. Kononovs guilty since "like the Latvian courts, the Court considered that the ill-treatment, wounding and killing of the villagers had constituted a war crime".
17.05.2010

Press release issued by the Registrar

Grand Chamber Judgment1

Kononov v. Latvia (Application n° 36376/04)

VASILIY KONONOV’S CONVICTION OF WAR CRIMES DURING SECOND WORLD WAR FOUND NOT TO HAVE VIOLATED ARTICLE 7 (NO PUNISHMENT WITHOUT LAW) OF THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Principal facts

Vasiliy Kononov was born in Latvia in 1923. He was a Latvian national until 12 April 2000, when he was granted Russian nationality. In 1942 he was called up as a soldier in the Soviet Army. In 1943 he was dropped into Belarus territory (under German occupation at the time) near the Latvian border, where he joined a Soviet commando unit composed of members of the “Red Partisans”.

According to the facts as established by the competent Latvian courts, on 27 May 1944 the applicant led a unit of Red Partisans wearing German uniforms on an expedition on the village of Mazie Bati, certain of whose inhabitants were suspected of having betrayed to the Germans another group of Red Partisans. The applicant’s unit searched six farm buildings in the village. After finding rifles and grenades supplied by the Germans in each of the houses, the Partisans shot the six heads of family concerned. They also wounded two women. They then set fire to two houses and four people (three of whom were women) perished in the flames. In all, nine villagers were killed: six men – five executed and one killed in the burning buildings – and three women – one in the final stages of pregnancy. The villagers killed were unarmed; none attempted to escape or offered any form of resistance.

According to the applicant, the victims of the attack were collaborators who had delivered a group of 12 Partisans into the hands of the Germans some three months earlier. The applicant said that his unit had been instructed to capture those responsible so that they could be brought to trial. He further claimed that he had not personally led the operation or entered the village.

In July 1998 the Centre for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism (Totalitārisma seku dokumentēšanas centrs), based in Latvia, forwarded an investigation file concerning the events of 27 May 1944 to the Latvian Principal Public Prosecutor. Subsequently, Mr Kononov was charged with war crimes.

On 30 April 2004 the Criminal Affairs Division of the Supreme Court ultimately found the applicant guilty of war crimes under Article 68-3 of the 1961 Criminal Code of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Latvia (the “1961 Latvian Criminal Code”)2. Relying mainly on the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (“Geneva Convention (IV) 1949”), it convicted the applicant for the ill-treatment, wounding and killing of the villagers, finding in particular that burning a pregnant woman to death violated the special protection afforded to women during war. Furthermore, the applicant and his unit had violated Article 25 of the Hague Regulations 1907 which forbade attacks against undefended localities, such as the villagers’ farm buildings. Under Article 23(b) of the same Regulations, the applicant was also convicted separately of treacherous wounding and killing, as he and his unit had worn German uniforms during the Mazie Bati operation. Noting that he was aged, infirm and harmless, the Latvian courts imposed an immediate custodial sentence of one year and eight months.

The applicant lodged an unsuccessful appeal on points of law.

Complaints, procedure and composition of the Court

The applicant complained, in particular, that the acts of which he had been accused had not, at the time of their commission, constituted an offence under either domestic or international law. He maintained that, in 1944 as a young soldier in a combat situation behind enemy lines, he could not have foreseen that those acts could have constituted war crimes, or have anticipated that he would subsequently be prosecuted. He also argued that his conviction following the independence of Latvia in 1991 had been a political exercise by the Latvian State rather than any real wish to fulfil international obligations to prosecute war criminals. He relied on Article 7 § 1 (no punishment without law) of the European Convention.

The application was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights on 27 August 2004.

In a judgment of 24 July 2008 the Court held, by four votes to three, that there had been a violation of Article 7 and, under Article 41 (just satisfaction), awarded the applicant 30,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

On 6 January 2009 the case was referred to the Grand Chamber under Article 43 at the Government’s request.

Third-party comments were received from the Government of the Russian Federation and from the Lithuanian Government.

On 20 May 2009 a hearing was held in public in the Human Rights Building in Strasbourg.

Judgment was given by the Grand Chamber of 17, composed as follows:

Jean-Paul Costa (France), President,
Christos Rozakis (Greece),
Nicolas Bratza (the United Kingdom),
Peer Lorenzen (Denmark),
Françoise Tulkens (Belgium),
Josep Casadevall (Andorra),
Ireneu Cabral Barreto (Portugal)
Dean Spielmann (Luxembourg),
Renate Jaeger (Germany),
Sverre Erik Jebens (Norway),
Dragoljub Popović (Serbia),
Päivi Hirvelä (Finland),
Ledi Bianku (Albania),
Zdravka Kalaydjieva (Bulgaria),
Mihai Poalelungi (Moldova),
Nebojša Vučinić (Montenegro), judges,
Alan Vaughan Lowe (Latvia), ad hoc judge,

and also Michael O’Boyle, Deputy Registrar

Decision of the Court

Had there been a sufficiently clear legal basis in 1944 for the crimes of which the applicant had been convicted?

Mr Kononov had been convicted under Article 68-3 of the 1961 Latvian Criminal Code, a provision introduced by the Supreme Council on 6 April 1993, which used the “relevant legal conventions” (such as the Geneva Convention (IV) 1949) as the basis for a precise definition of war crimes. The Latvian courts’ conviction of the applicant had, therefore, been based on international rather than domestic law.

By May 1944 the prevailing definition of a war crime had been an act contrary to the laws and customs of war; and international law had defined the basic principles underlying those crimes. States had been permitted (if not required) to take steps to punish individuals for such crimes, including on the basis of command responsibility. Consequently, during and after the Second World War, international and national tribunals had prosecuted soldiers for war crimes committed during the Second World War.

As to whether there had been a sufficiently clear and contemporary legal basis for the specific war crimes for which the applicant had been convicted, the Court began its assessment on the basis of a hypothesis that the deceased villagers could be considered to be “combatants” or “civilians who had participated in hostilities” (rather than “civilians”). The Court also recalled the “two cardinal principles” relied on by the International Court of Justice as applicable to armed conflict which constituted “the fabric of humanitarian law”, namely “protection of the civilian population and objects” and “the obligation to avoid unnecessary suffering to combatants”.

In that connection, and having regard notably to Article 23(c) of the Hague Regulations 1907, the villagers’ murder and ill-treatment had violated a fundamental rule of the laws and customs of war by which an enemy rendered hors combat – in this case not carrying arms – was protected. Nor was a person required to have a particular legal status or to formally surrender. As combatants, the villagers would also have been entitled to protection as prisoners of war under the control of the applicant and his unit and their subsequent ill-treatment and summary execution would have been contrary to the numerous rules and customs of war protecting prisoners of war. Therefore, like the Latvian courts, the Court considered that the ill-treatment, wounding and killing of the villagers had constituted a war crime.

Furthermore, the domestic courts had reasonably relied on Article 23(b) of the Hague Regulations 1907 to separately convict Mr Kononov of treacherous wounding and killing. At the relevant time wounding or killing had been considered treacherous if it had been carried out while unlawfully inducing the enemy to believe they had not been under threat of attack by, for example, making improper use of an enemy uniform, which the applicant and his unit indeed had done. Equally, there was a plausible legal basis for convicting Mr Kononov of a separate war crime as regards the burning to death of the expectant mother, given the special protection for women during war established well before 1944 (ie Lieber Code 1863) in the laws and customs of war and confirmed immediately after the Second World War by numerous specific and special protections in the Geneva Conventions. Nor had there been evidence domestically, and it had not been argued before the Court, that it had been “imperatively demanded by the necessities of war” to burn down the farm buildings in Mazie Bati, the only exception under the Hague Regulations 1907 for the destruction of private property.

Indeed, the applicant had himself described in his version of events what he ought to have done namely, to have arrested the villagers for trial. Even if a partisan trial had taken place, it would not qualify as fair if it had been carried out without the knowledge or participation of the accused villagers, followed by their execution. Mr Kononov, having organised and been in control of the partisan unit which had been intent on killing the villagers and destroying their farms, had command responsibility for those acts.

In conclusion, even assuming as the applicant maintained that the deceased villagers could be considered to have been “civilians who had participated in hostilities” or “combatants”, there had been a sufficiently clear legal basis, having regard to the state of international law in 1944, for the applicant’s conviction and punishment for war crimes as the commander of the unit responsible for the attack on Mazie Bati on 27 May 1944. The Court added that, if the villagers were to be considered “civilians”, it followed that they would have been entitled to even greater protection.

Had the crimes been statute-barred?

The Court noted that the prescription provisions in domestic law were not applicable: the applicant’s prosecution required reference to international law both as regards the definition of such crimes and determination of any limitation period. The essential question was therefore whether, at any point prior to Mr Kononov’s prosecution, such action had become statute-barred by international law. The Court found that the charges had never been prescribed under international law either in 1944 or in developments in international law since. It therefore concluded that the prosecution of the applicant had not become statute-barred.

Could the applicant have foreseen that the relevant acts had constituted war crimes and that he would be prosecuted?

As to whether the qualification of the acts as war crimes, based as it was on international law only, could be considered to be sufficiently accessible and foreseeable to the applicant in 1944, the Court recalled that it had previously found that the individual criminal responsibility of a private soldier (a border guard) was defined with sufficient accessibility and foreseeability by a requirement to comply with international fundamental human rights instruments, which instruments did not, of themselves, give rise to individual criminal responsibility. While the 1926 Criminal Code did not contain a reference to the international laws and customs of war, this was not decisive since international laws and customs of war were in 1944 sufficient, of themselves, to found individual criminal responsibility.

The Court found that the laws and customs of war constituted particular and detailed regulations fixing the parameters of criminal conduct in a time of war, primarily addressed to armed forces and, especially, commanders. Given his position as a commanding military officer, the Court was of the view that Mr Kononov could have been reasonably expected to take special care in assessing the risks that the operation in Mazie Bati had entailed. Even the most cursory reflection by Mr Kononov, would have indicated that the acts, flagrantly unlawful ill-treatment and killing, had risked not only being counter to the laws and customs of war as understood at that time but also constituting war crimes for which, as commander, he could be held individually and criminally accountable.

As to the applicant’s submission that it had been politically unforeseeable that he would be prosecuted, the Court recalled its prior jurisprudence to the effect that it was legitimate and foreseeable for a successor State to bring criminal proceedings against persons who had committed crimes under a former regime. Successor courts could not be criticised for applying and interpreting the legal provisions in force at the relevant time during the former regime, in the light of the principles governing a State subject to the rule of law and having regard to the core principles (such as the right to life) on which the European Convention system is built. Those principles were found to be applicable to a change of regime of the nature which took place in Latvia following the Declarations of Independence of 1990 and 1991.

Accordingly, the Latvian courts’ prosecution and conviction of Mr Kononov, based on international law in force at the time of the acts he stood accused of, could not be considered unforeseeable. In conclusion, at the time when they were committed, the applicant’s acts had constituted offences defined with sufficient accessibility and foreseeability by the laws and customs of war.

The Court therefore concluded, by 14 votes to three, that there had been no violation of Article 7.

Judge Rozakis expressed a concurring opinion, joined by Judges Tulkens, Spielmann and Jebens. Judge Costa expressed a dissenting opinion, joined by Judges Kalaydjieva and Poalelungi. The texts of these separate opinions are annexed to the judgment.

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Re: New Year's greetings from Russian President to killer

Post by Sergey Romanov » 18 May 2010 17:39

Thanks. The judgment (the complete text is at http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/viewh ... highlight= ) seems to be technically objective. It seems to boil down to "You don't kill POWs, regardless". Which is true - regardless of the partisans' victims' role, they should've undergone a trial. So Kononov et al. committed a war crime.

The matter of morality of his actions is separate and is not a black-or-white issue, the central question being the alleged role of his victims - were they or weren't they Nazi collaborators and/or Schutzmaenner who themselves were responsible for atrocities, as Kononov alleges? This is still controversial in regard to some of them.

If (and only if) all of them were such, Kononov's admittedly criminal actions are not on the level of those war criminals who murder truly peaceful citizens (cf. the case of Sonderkommandos in Auschwitz, who, during the revolt, forced one of the brutal Kapos into an oven and burned him alive; this is an obvious crime, yet there won't be many people condemning these men). If, however, even a single truly innocent person was harmed, even by mistake, there is no moral excuse whatsoever.

The partisan war is always "on the edge" of legality, the attempts of Lithuanian prosecutors to pin "war crimes" on the great Holocaust historian Yitzchak Arad, who just happens to have been a partisan in Lithuania during the war, being an illustration of this. The judgment shows Kononov to be a war criminal, but doesn't quite clear out the moral grey zone surrounding his crime.

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Re: New Year's greetings from Russian President to killer

Post by Sergey Romanov » 18 May 2010 18:08

Here's a news item typologically related to the case under discussion:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5314574.stm

Although of course Guido Mussolini did not go as far as to call the executioners of his granddad murderers. Which, technically speaking, they were. After all, Mussolini was a POW and he was shot without a trial. And if you think about it, the killing of his lover was even less legally justifiable. But, well, there you have it. I doubt people would be calling for Mussolini's killers' blood if they were still alive.

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Re:

Post by Okyzm » 18 May 2010 18:49

Beppo Schmidt wrote:Can you imagine if Gerhard Schroeder sent New Year's greetings to a German war criminal? The outrage would be neverending. But people just ignore Putin's sympathies with Soviet war criminals and keep ranting about "the rising tide of German nationalism". Please. :roll:
I don't know about Schroeder but Kohl was connected to Fritz Ries-a person responsible for administrating Jewish slave labour during WW2.
There are tonns of Nazi war criminals and murderers who enjoyed political carrers after WW2 in Germany. The leniency towards Nazi war criminals by West Germany is very well known.

http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/acc ... tics+Today
With Ries as his mentor, Kohl became the advisor to the Assn. of
Chemical Industries of Rhineland-Palatinate-Saar.
It's not clear if Ries, now dead, was one of the secret donors who
illegally pumped funds into the CDU's coffers, but this much is certain: He
had a great deal of influence over Kohl. "Even if I call him at three
o'clock in the morning, he has to jump," Ries once boasted.
But who was Ries, and where did he get his money? During the Third
Reich, Ries made a fortune from expropriating "Aryanized" Jewish property
and from slave labor in factories near the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Not only was Ries never condemned for his Nazi-era crimes, he went on to
become the patron of several conservative West German politicians,
including Kohl, who was elected chancellor in 1982. As a token of his
gratitude, Kohl awarded Ries West Germany's highest civil decoration, the
Bundesverdienstkreuz or "Federal Cross of Merit." "

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Re: New Year's greetings from Russian President to killer

Post by Kajtmaz » 18 May 2010 19:50

AAA wrote:Well the ECHR has issued their final judgement. Kononovs guilty since "like the Latvian courts, the Court considered that the ill-treatment, wounding and killing of the villagers had constituted a war crime".
Thanks
Sergey Romanov wrote:If (and only if) ...
intricately

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Re: New Year's greetings from Russian President to killer

Post by Sergey Romanov » 18 May 2010 19:50

Okzym, you're correct, unfortunately. The whole book by Tom Bowers - "Blind eye to murder" - is dedicated to exposing this sad fact. There was also an article by - IIRC - Willie Dressen about what a joke lots of German legals cases against war criminals were, with extremely short sentences, refusals to prosecute, etc.

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Re: New Year's greetings from Russian President to killer

Post by Sergey Romanov » 18 May 2010 19:53

Sergey Romanov wrote:If (and only if) ...
intricately
Of course. Because I don't know all the facts of the case. I'm not "for" Kononov, but neither I'm willing to condemn him as an equal to the Nazis because there is a chance (still not refuted as far as I'm concerned) that his group did execute the people who did deserve it (though they shouldn't have).

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