Defendant: Kimura, Yasushi, Civilian Guard, Omori PW Camp
Docket No./ Date: 50/51/ July 20-23, 1946, Yokohama, Japan
Charge: Violation of the Laws and Customs of War: 1. Did willfully and
unlawfully mistreat, abuse and torture American PWs.
Specifications: beatings using rifle butts, barrel of a gun, hands, fists,
hob-nailed shoes, pliers; forcing PWs to strike each other, torture
Verdict: 5 years CHL
Reviewing Authority's Recommendations: Accused was a civilian guard known
as "Horse Face." Accused had told others in the PW camp that
he had beat prisoners for not working. Accused was the individual responsible
for the beatings, mistreatment and torture of individuals for infractions
such as stealing, suspicion of stealing and doing something other than
what they were supposed to be doing.
Reviewing Authority: Denied all the specifications. However, on several
occasions, accused beat prisoners by direct order of a higher ranked officer:
he had no right to punish a prisoner unless ordered by a higher officer.
One several occasions, he admitted striking or slapping individuals for
stealing but not hard and not many times: he knows he should not have
done this without orders from superiors. He looked after the welfare of
the prisoners, even so far as to risk getting punished by his superiors.
Prosecution Arguments: The record is legally sufficient to support the
findings. The evidence supports the findings. The Prosecution "introduced
testimony by means of sworn statements of prisoners who had been interned
in the camp" and by means of a witness present in court" who
"were in a position to know the facts of the matter." There
is no evidence that the accused was not sane at the time that the acts
were committed and at the time of trial. The sentence of the accused is
inadequate even by the standard of what an American court might give to
a prisoner guard over American penitentiary prisoners for light offenses,
especially considering that the accused committed these acts on men who
were helpless and did not dare offer any resistance or defense. Punishments
for violations of the rules set down by "agreement of civilized nations"
must be of "sufficient severity as to be a deterrant against the
commission of similar crimes in any future war." Paul E. Spurlock,
Reviewer, Judge Advocate Section Reviewer discussed the issue of overruling
by the commission of an objection by the defense concerning the issue
of the character of the accused. The defense was correct in stating: "the
only time the man's character is in evidence is such time as the defense
desires to put that character into evidence." Furthermore, the reviewer
cited from Wharton's Criminal Evidence Vol I that , "the state...cannot
show the bad character of the accused until the accused has raised the
issue by offering evidence of good character." Bad character is not
the charge: character matters are irrelevant to finding accused guilty
or not guilty of the charges. This did not became a fatal error because
of what amounted to a verbal directive to disregard the characterization
by the commission.
Defense Arguments: Admitted to having struck the American POW but denied
the scope of their beatings. Also denied participation in the conspiracy
to kill the prisoner.
Judge Advocate's Recommendations: "Jointly and in pursuance of a
common intent" was taken out of the original charge. It is interesting
because of the difference between the idea of conspiracy in Tokyo and
in the lesser trials.