HC Deb 05 July 1949 vol 466 cc1949-50
27. Mr. Stokes

asked the Secretary of State for War what steps he is taking to see that the provisions of the Geneva Conventions requiring a field-marshal to be tried by field-marshals is carried out in the case of Field-Marshal von Manstein.

The Under-Secretary of State for War (Mr. Michael Stewart)

I am not aware of any such provisions in the Geneva Conventions, but in any case the provisions of the Geneva Convention of 1929 which relate to judicial proceedings against prisoners of war deal only with offences committed during detention as a prisoner of war and are not therefore relevant. Field-Marshal von Manstein is to be charged with war crimes under the provisions of the Royal Warrant of 14th June, 1945.

Mr. Stokes

Is it not the case that Field-Marshal von Manstein is still nominally a prisoner of war? Section 63 of the Convention lays down that he must be tried by his equals, and Section 62 says that he must have an advocate of his own choice.

Mr. Stewart

Even if the Geneva Convention were relevant—and I have pointed out that it is not—it would still only require that he should be tried by field-marshals unless, having due regard to the public interest, a sufficient number of them was not available, and it is unlikely that they would be.

Mr. Eric Fletcher

Is there any reason why the War Office should refuse the request of Field-Marshal von Manstein for the assistance of British counsel for this trial?

Mr. Stewart

That is quite another question.

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