Auditeur Militaire v Krumkamp
|Case No. 122
|08 février 1950
|Military Court (Belgium)
The Individual in International Law — Universal Declaration of Human Rights — Applicability to Time of War.
War — Laws and Customs of — Treaty Law and Custom — Preamble of the Hague Regulations.
War — Enforcement of Laws of — Punishment of War Crimes — Prescription — Laws and Customs of War — Treaty Law and Custom — Preamble of the Hague Regulations — The Individual in International Law — Universal Declaration of Human Rights — Applicability to Time of War — The Law of Belgium.
The Facts.—The accused, a German national, was charged with having tortured Belgian nationals during the German occupation of Belgium. It was contended on his behalf, firstly, that the prosecution was time-barred, and secondly, that the acts committed by him were not contrary to the laws and customs of war and were therefore not punishable by Belgian courts.
Held: that the accused was guilty. The period of limitation did not run while the prosecution was made impossible by the enemy occupation of Belgium. The torture of the inhabitants of occupied territory was contrary to the laws and customs of war. The Court said:
“Article 2 of the Law of 29 April 1943 provides that the period of limitation shall not run in respect of crimes or delicts the prosecution of which was prevented or postponed by the enemy occupation of the country. That provision is clearly applicable to offences committed by German nationals. The report to the Council explains that the Law is intended to prevent Belgian nationals and aliens, for whom the presence or intervention of the occupant procured a temporary immunity, from escaping their due punishment by the aid of prescription. No distinction is made between combatant and non-combatant aliens. That part of the report refers specifically to Article 1 of the Law. But it is clear from the content and the general structure of the Law that the provisions of Article 2 also are equally applicable to aliens and to Belgian nationals.
“It is necessary to determine the date on which the period of limitation again started running. Article 1 of the Law of 29 April 1943 fixes ‘the day on which the national territory shall be completely freed from enemy occupation’ in respect of crimes provided for in that article. On the other hand, in respect of crimes provided for in Article 2 it leaves the Courts to determine the date on which there was no longer any obstacle in the way of...
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