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United States v. Josef Altstoetter

International Military Tribunal
Control Council Law No. 10, at 954 (1948)


After World War II, the Allies negotiated a treaty creating the International Military Tribunal (IMT), a court that would handle the trial and punishment of Nazi German war criminals. When drafting the IMT Charter, the officials agreed that the Nazi leaders should be prosecuted for three offenses: (1) crimes against peace, (2) war crimes, and (3) crimes against humanity. In one trial held in the U.S. occupation zone in Germany, 14 individuals, including a member of the German high command, leaders of the execution squads, doctors who had set up medical experiments, and Nazi judges and prosecutors (defendants), were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. The defendants challenged the charges, raising the nullum crimen sine lege defense and arguing that war crimes and crimes against humanity had not been recognized as international law crimes under the IMT Charter and that, therefore, the prosecutions violated ex post facto principles.

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Holding and Reasoning

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