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On Stalwart International Justice Advocate Henry T. King

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On Stalwart International Justice Advocate Henry T. King

Posted by Colin Thomas-Jensen on May 13, 2009

Last fall, my colleague Omer Ismail and I attended an extrordinary gathering at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York. Under the auspices of the Robert H. Jackson Center, the lead prosecutors at international courts for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, and the deputy prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague came together for the second annual international humanitarian law dialogs. (The Enough Project co-sponsored the event). Yet for all the firepower in that distinguished group, three former prosecutors stole the show. Henry T King, Jr., Whitney Harris, and Benjamin Ferencz were all prosecutors at Nuremburg, and long-time advocates for international justice.

And so I was deeply saddened to learn that one of them, Henry T King, Jr., passed away this week at his home in Cleveland. If you don’t know anything about Mr. King, take a look at his obituary in the New York Times. Here’s a short excerpt.

Mr. King graduated from Yale in 1941. A heart murmur kept him out of the military in World War II. He received his law degree from Yale in 1943. Soon after, while he was working at a New York law firm, he became bored. He traveled to the Pentagon in 1946 and was accepted as a member of the Nuremberg prosecution.

Mr. King was 26 when he stepped off a train in war-ravaged Nuremberg. All about him were the rubble of bombed-out buildings and people begging for food.

“As I walked to the courthouse for the first time, I said I’m going to dedicate my life to the prevention of this,” he said at a conference on genocide held last August by the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y.