war crimes

Cultural Dictionary

war crimes definition

Acts committed by soldiers or government officials, either in the course of a war or in bringing on a war, that violate the customs of warfare. Examples of war crimes include atrocities committed against civilians (see My Lai massacre) and the mistreatment of prisoners of war. After World War II, twenty-two Nazi leaders were tried at Nuremberg by the victorious Allies, and twelve were sentenced to death for war crimes. (See Nuremberg trials.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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