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Home arrow Law arrow United States law and policy on transitional justice : principles, politics, and pragmatics
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C. DOMESTIC ACCOUNTABILITY FOR ATROCITIES DURING THE COLD WAR

Some states demonstrated an interest during the Cold War—sometimes insincerely or because of political calculations—in bringing to justice individuals they considered atrocity perpetrators, either unilaterally or through narrow multilateralism. Perhaps the most prominent example of USG efforts in this respect was the trial of Lieutenant William Calley in 1970-1971. Calley was accused and convicted by a U.S. military court of ordering numerous civilian murders in what became known as the 1968 “My Lai Massacre” during the Vietnam War. Despite being sentenced to life imprisonment, Calley ultimately served only three-and-a-half years under house arrest because many viewed him as a mere scapegoat for the massacre.17

Other countries besides the United States also attempted to bring alleged atrocity perpetrators to justice during or at the end of the Cold War. For example, the USG believes that Iraq sought in 1990 to establish a multilateral court in Algeria to prosecute Bush, Sr. for allegedly committing atrocities.18

 
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