Benjamin Harjo Obituary, Death – In 2011, at the age of 92, Benjamin Ferencz, a little but indefatigable man, rose to deliver the closing prosecution speech at the first trial ever heard before the international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague. This was the first trial ever heard before the ICC. Wearing black robes and a starched white neck band, the veteran lawyer, who had prosecuted Nazi mass murderers at the Nuremberg war crimes trials more than 60 years earlier, saluted a “historic moment in the evolution of international criminal law”.
The outstanding contribution that Ferencz made to promoting the cause of international justice was recognized by the fact that he was given the honor of participating on the prosecution team in the trial of a Congolese warlord, after which he passed away at the age of 103. The last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor, he had dedicated his life to campaigning, successfully, for the establishment of a permanent court – the ICC – to try the world’s most serious crimes and for laws establishing the crime of aggression.
Last year, Ferencz was still giving televised interviews, during which he argued that those responsible for atrocities in Ukraine must be brought to trial. His guiding principle was “Law, Not War,” and he was guided in these talks by this principle. His reputation was built on two criminal cases that he presided over at the age of 27 in front of United States military courts that were sitting at Nuremberg in 1947 after the end of the second world war. At the time, he lacked any prior experience functioning as a prosecutor in a judicial setting.
His first case was brought against SS officials who were responsible for organizing the Einsatzgruppen mobile murder squads that operated in eastern Europe while it was occupied by the Nazis. The majority of those who were murdered were Jewish, and it is estimated that two million people’s remains were dumped in pits after being murdered by gunshot or by being beaten to death.