Important Conference at Case Western Reserve University School of Law Focuses on the 70th Anniversary of the Infamous Katyn Forest Massacre
The conference will produce an “Experts Report” which will summarize conclusions and make recommendations for next steps concerning accountability
(Editors note: A webcast is available at: http://law.case.edu/lectures/webcast.aspx?dt=20110204)
CLEVELAND – About 70 years ago at a place in Europe known as Katyn Forest and three other sites, over 22,000 Polish officers, prisoners of war, and members of the Polish leading elite were slain.
For years, the massacre was subject to a massive cover up.
Initially the Soviet Union blamed the Nazis for the massacre, saying that the killings took place in 1941 when the territory was in German hands. It was not until 1990 that the Russian government admitted that the executions actually took place in 1940 and were carried out by the Soviet secret police.
In 1990, Russian prosecutors launched a criminal investigation into the massacre, but the case was terminated in 2004.
Katyn has taken on a new significance due to the crash last spring of an airplane carrying the president of Poland and 95 others, who perished on the way to a massacre memorial event in western Russia. In the months following the crash, the Russian government handed over to the Polish government 87 files of its investigation into the 1940 killings.
The conference attendees February 4 and 5 brought expertise on the history and facts behind the Katyn massacre and whether it rises to the level of “genocide.” They intend to produce an “Experts Report” which will summarize conclusions and make recommendations for next steps concerning accountability for the Katyn massacre.
Among the experts involved is Stephen Rapp, U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues and former Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The conference also featured presentations by Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Congresswomen Marcy Kaptur, both from Ohio. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, also of Ohio, provided his comments in a video presentation.
Other participants included Polish and Russian prosecutors, former U.S. State Department and international organization officials, and leading academics in the field.