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TWICE this week a Canadian Jewish leader has been roundly criticized by one of his own. First there was a Jacob Schiff in The Globe and Mail; now here's the famous defence attorney Eddie Greenspan tearing 3 strips off the infamous old rumour-monger Sol Littman in the Letters page of the National Post. Littman's own letter was remarkable for the legal advice it offered to alleged Serb and Croat war criminals.

It seems that Israeli lawyers had adopted the same legal shield to protect their own troops from war crimes charges...

National Post
Toronto, June 15, 1999


Re: Orders, June 14.

IN A letter to the National Post, Sol Littman criticizes Madam Justice Louise Arbour for not reading up on the Nuremberg trials before she rendered her decision in the Finta case; and argues that, had she done so, she would have known the "following orders defence" had been rejected by the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1945. This is an absurd statement for Mr. Littman to make for these reasons:

  1. In Finta, the Ontario court of Appeal judgment was written by three judges and was not the decision of one renegade justice.
  2. Mr. Littman ignored the fact the Supreme Court of Canada dealt directly with the defence of obedience to superior orders and the Nuremberg Tribunal when it weighed in on the very same Finta case. The Supreme Court majority carefully considered the history of the defence of obedience to superior orders and their judgment is the law of this land. Any complaint should be directed to them.
  3. Finally, Mr. Littman failed to point out the Supreme Court relied on a decision of the Israeli District Military Court (it upheld the defence).

Mr. Littman's problem is with the Supreme Court of Canada, the Israeli District Military Court and the authorities set out in the Supreme Court of Canada judgment and not with Justice Arbour. It was wrong to single out Justice Arbour on this extremely complicated issue.

Edward L. Greenspan, Q.C., Senior Partner,
Greenspan, Henein and White,

Here, incongruous as this may seem, Sol Littman, the Canadian representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, via a letter in the June 14 National Post, offered legal advice to suspected Serb or Croat war criminals on how best to put up a defence if and when they are brought before the bar of justice at the International Court at The Hague.

However, one should understand that Mr. Littman does so with ironic resentment against Judge Louise Arbour, whom he holds at least partly responsible for five years' inactivity among Canadian Nazi-hunters--at a critical juncture--in the prosecution of alleged war criminals resident in Canada.

Mr. Littman was not a happy camper, and appeared not to share the enthusiasm of his many friends for the recently-announced elevation of the international war crimes prosecutor, Judge Arbour, to a seat on the Supreme Court of Canada.

June 14, 1999


IT IS a pity that Madame Justice Louise Arbour didn't take the trouble to read up on the Nuremberg Trials before she rendered her decision in the Imre Finta case. If she had, she would have known that the "following orders" defence had been rejected by the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1945. Unfortunately Arbour had not done her homework and as a result sided with the majority in holding Finta innocent of war crimes.

She also agreed with the majority of the Appeal Court judges that having been immersed in an anti-Semitic culture, Finta did not realize that his orders were illegal.

The result was a hiatus of five years in war crimes prosecutions in Canada -- five years in which witnesses died, documents were lost and memories faded. "Following orders" and "living in an anti-Semitic climate" became legal defences against war crimes prosecutions under the Criminal Code in Canada. Carefully investigated cases had to be abandoned or prepared over again as civil immigration cases.

If I were a Serb or Croat charged with war crimes before the court in The Hague, I would turn immediately to Madam Justice Louise Arbour's Appeal Court decision in the Finta case. I would use her own arguments in my defence against her charges. I would plead that I was only following the orders of my superiors, orders that seemed entirely legitimate given the spirit of the times.

Sol Littman,
Canadian Representative,
Simon Wiesenthal Centre,

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