Ethics: Problems Of Crime and Punishment

Should the U.S. use Soviet evidence against accused war criminals?

If Karl Linnas is guilty, this is what he did. In the early 1940s, during the German occupation of his native Estonia, he was chief of a Nazi concentration camp in a place called Tartu. Twelve thousand East Europeans were executed there, including 2,000 Jews. Linnas ordered half-naked men, women and children transported to a ditch and gunned down. Some of them he finished off himself.

These are the charges, supported by eyewitness accounts and recovered camp documents. In 1962 a Soviet court tried Linnas in absentia as a war criminal and sentenced him to death. But by that time he...

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