Letters: War crimes

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The Independent Culture
War crimes

Sir: Your leading article "Spain v Pinochet" (27 September), rightly points to fact that war crimes trials did not become "a practical reality" until the close of the Cold War. A noteworthy, but too often forgotten, example of this was the case of the Italian commander Marshal Badoglio, who had been responsible for the use of poison gas in Ethiopia in 1935- 6.

To prevent his trial at a time when the Allies wanted him to play a major anti-Communist role in post-war Italian politics, Ethiopia was excluded from the War Crimes Commission, as is revealed in the Foreign Office papers at the Public Record Office. The result was that though Italian fascists had committed many war crimes in Ethiopia, not a single Italian was ever tried for such crimes.


Institute of Ethiopian Studies

Addis Ababa University