Como todos sabem, o STF entendeu que não seria possível rever, pela via jurisdicional, a questão da tortura cometida no período ditatorial no Brasil.
Independentemente do mérito, é interessante notar como Cortes Internacionais tem analisado a questão.
Abaixo você lê notícia da Corte Européia de Direitos Humanos, de caso julgado em 17.05.10, envolvendo a Letônia e crimes praticados na época do nazimo. Veja abaixo o julgado:
Nullum crimen sine lege
Conviction under legislation introduced in 1993 for war crimes committed in Second World War: no violation
Condamnation fondée sur une disposition adoptée en 1993 pour crimes de guerre commis durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale : non-violation
Kononov – Latvia/Lettonie - 36376/04 Judgment/Arrêt 17.5.2010 [GC]
Facts – In July 1998 the applicant was charged with war crimes arising out of an incident that had occurred more than fifty years earlier during the Second World War, when he was a member of a Soviet commando unit of Red Partisans. The charges were brought under Article 68-3 of the 1961 Criminal Code of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Latvia, a provision dealing with war crimes that had been inserted by the Latvian Supreme Council on 6 April 1993, following Latvian independence. The Criminal Affairs Division of the Latvian Supreme Court found the applicant guilty of various war crimes and sentenced him to twenty-months’ imprisonment in view of his age and infirmity. According to the facts as established by the Latvian courts, on 27 May 1944 he had led a unit of Red Partisans on a punitive expedition on the village of Mazie Bati (which was then under German administration) following reports that certain of its inhabitants had betrayed another group of Partisans to the Germans. The unit had entered the village dressed in German uniforms and, after finding rifles and grenades supplied by the Germans, had set fire to buildings and killed nine of the villagers, including three women, one in the final stages of pregnancy. None of those who died had been armed, or had attempted to escape or offered resistance. According to the applicant, the victims of the attack were collaborators who had delivered a group of Partisans into the hands of the Germans some three months earlier. His unit had been instructed by an ad hoc Partisan tribunal to capture those responsible so that they could be brought to trial, but he had not personally led the operation or entered the village.
In his application to the European Court, the applicant complained that the acts of which he had been accused had not, at the time of their commission, constituted an offence under either domestic or international law. He further maintained that in 1944, as a young soldier in a combat situation behind enemy lines, he could not have foreseen that his acts would constitute war crimes or that he would be prosecuted. In his submission, his conviction following Latvian independence in 1991 owed more to political expedience than to any real wish to fulfil international obligations to prosecute war criminals. In a judgment of 24 July 2008 a Chamber of the Court found, by four votes to three, that there had been a violation of Article 7 § 1 of the Convention (see Information Note no. 110).
Law – Article 7: The Court was not called upon to rule on the applicant’s individual criminal responsibility as that was primarily a matter for the domestic courts. Its function was to examine whether, under the law as it stood on 27 May 1944, there had been a sufficiently clear legal basis for the applicant’s convictions, whether their prosecution had become statute-barred in the interim, and whether the offences of which the applicant was ultimately convicted had been defined with sufficient accessibility and foreseeability. Since the factual evidence was disputed, the Court began its analysis on the basis of the hypothesis that was most favourable to the applicant, namely that the villagers were not ordinary civilians, but “combatants” or “civilians who had participated in hostilities”.
(a) Legal basis for the crimes in 1944 – The applicant had been convicted under Article 68-3 of the 1961 Criminal Code, a provision that had been introduced by the Supreme Council on 6 April 1993. Although Article 68-3 gave examples of acts considered to be war crimes, it relied on “relevant legal conventions” for a precise definition. Accordingly, the applicant’s conviction had been based on international rather than domestic Law The Court reviewed the position under international law in 1944. It noted that, following an extensive period of codification going back to the mid-nineteenth century, the Charter of the International Military Tribunal of Nuremberg had provided a non-exhaustive definition of war crimes for which individual criminal responsibility was retained. There had been agreement in contemporary doctrine that international law, in particular the Hague Convention and Regulations 1907, had already defined war crimes and required individuals to be prosecuted, so that the Charter was not ex post facto criminal legislation. Throughout that period of codification, domestic criminal and military tribunals had been the primary mechanism for the enforcement of the laws and customs of war, with international prosecution being the exception. Accordingly, the international liability of the State based on treaties and conventions did not preclude the customary responsibility of States to prosecute and punish individuals for violations of the laws and customs of war. International and national law served as a basis for domestic prosecutions and liability. In particular, where national law did not provide for the specific characteristics of a war crime, the domestic court could rely on international law as a basis for its reasoning. Accordingly, the Court considered that by May 1944 war crimes had been defined as acts contrary to the laws and customs of war and international law had defined the basic principles underlying, and an extensive range of acts constituting, such crimes. States were at least permitted (if not required) to take steps to punish individuals for war crimes, including on the basis of command responsibility.
The Court went on to consider, in the light of the “two cardinal principles” of humanitarian law – the “protection of the civilian population and objects” and the “obligation to avoid unnecessary suffering to combatants” – whether there had been a sufficiently clear and contemporary legal basis for the specific war crimes of which the applicant had been convicted. These crimes had included the ill-treatment, wounding and killing of the villagers, their treacherous wounding and killing, the burning to death of a pregnant woman and attacks on undefended localities.
As to the first of these offences, having regard notably to Article 23(c) of the Hague Regulations 1907, the murder and ill-treatment of the villagers had violated the fundamental rule that an enemy rendered hors de combat – in this case not carrying arms – was protected. Such persons were not required to have a particular legal status or to have formally surrendered. As combatants, the villagers would also have been entitled to protection as prisoners of war under the control of the applicant and his unit and their subsequent ill-treatment and summary execution would have been contrary to the numerous rules and customs of war protecting prisoners of war. As regards the second offence, the domestic courts had reasonably relied on Article 23(b) of the Hague Regulations to found a separate conviction of treacherous wounding and killing for unlawfully inducing (by wearing German uniforms) the enemy to believe they were not under threat of attack. There had also been a plausible legal basis for convicting the applicant of the third offence (the burning to death of the expectant mother) given the special protection to which women had been entitled during war since as early as the Lieber Code 1863. Lastly, as regards the fourth offence, Article 25 of the Hague Regulations prohibited attacks against undefended localities except where “imperatively demanded by the necessities of war”. There was nothing to suggest that that exception had applied in the applicant’s case. Accordingly, the Court was satisfied that each of these offences had constituted a war crime. As the person who had organised, commanded and led the Partisan unit that had carried out the attack, the applicant had assumed command responsibility for those acts.
In conclusion, even assuming that the deceased villagers could be considered to have been “civilians who had participated in hostilities” or “combatants”, there had been a sufficiently clear legal basis, having regard to the state of international law in 1944, for the applicant’s conviction and punishment for war crimes as the commander of the unit responsible for the attack on Mazie Bati. If the villagers were considered to have been “civilians”, they would have been entitled to even greater protection.
(b) Whether the charges were statute-barred – A domestic prosecution for war crimes in 1944 would have required reference to international law, not only as regards the definition of such crimes, but also as regards the determination of any limitation period. Accordingly, any domestic limitation period was not applicable. The essential question, therefore, was whether at any point prior to the applicant’s prosecution, such action had become statute-barred by international law. International law was silent on the subject in 1944 and had not fixed any limitation period since. It followed that the applicant’s prosecution had not been statute-barred.
(c) Foreseeability – The international laws and customs of war were sufficient, of themselves, to found individual criminal responsibility in 1944, so the fact that they were not referred to in the domestic legislation at that time could not be decisive. They constituted detailed lex specialis regulations fixing the parameters of criminal conduct in a time of war and were primarily addressed to armed forces and, in particular, commanders. Given his position as a commanding military officer, the applicant could reasonably have been expected to take special care in assessing the risks the Mazie Bati operation entailed. Even the most cursory reflection would have indicated that the flagrantly unlawful ill-treatment and killing of the villagers risked constituting war crimes for which, as commander, he could be held individually and criminally accountable. The Court rejected the applicant’s submission that his prosecution had been politically unforeseeable, as it was both legitimate and foreseeable for a successor State to bring criminal proceedings against those who had committed crimes under a former regime. Successor courts could not be criticised for applying and interpreting the legal provisions in force at the relevant time during the former regime in the light of both the principles governing a State subject to the rule of law and the core principles on which the Convention system was built, particularly where the right to life was at stake. Those principles were applicable to a change of regime of the nature which had taken place in Latvia following independence.
Accordingly, at the time they were committed, the applicant’s acts had constituted offences defined with sufficient accessibility and foreseeability by the laws and customs of war.
Conclusion: no violation (fourteen votes to three).