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11 corrections, most recently by fwalker13 - Show corrections

Blindfold Prisoners




Between eight and ten uniden- tified Australian prisoners of war were shot in the back when they were executed by a Japan- ese firing squad at Gasmata, New Britain, in March, 1942.

This was alleged in sworn evidence tendered by the prose- cution at the War Crimes trials here to-day.    

In the dock, charged with murder was Norio Kondo, "form- er ensign attached to No. 2 Japanese special naval landing party.

According to evidence, Kondo sat in a chair on the beach near Gasmata while he gave the order to a firing squad drawn up be- hind the blindfolded men to fire.

This evidence was contradict- ed by other Japanese present at the execution, who have sworn   that the prisoners were facing the firing squad.      

It was also contradicted in a   sworn statement by Kondo, who says the execution was carried   out against his will on the ord- ers of the officer commanding an air unit then stationed at Gas-


According to the prosecution, however, the prisoners of war were led up on the beach facing the sea. Kondo gave the order to fire, and the bodies, under Kondo's supervision, were then loaded on a barge and taken to sea for burial. They were later washed ashore and buried on


One of Kondo's subordinates, First Class Seaman Kasuyoshi Nakamura, said that the firing party was taken from young men about 21 and 22 years of aere, "perhaps to give them ex- perience."

He added: "It was, maybe, that I was not chosen because I had had combat .-experience on Hainan Island and Shanghai."

Other Japanese witnesses   have suggested in sworn evi- dence that the prisoners were shot because of the shortage of food in the area, at the time.

Leading Seaman Kitano Kita- mura said that in March, 1942,

the communications of the gar-   rison with headquarters' in Ra

baul had broken down, and the   food situation became dangerous.

Not long after this they heard   that the "Caucasian" prisoners ' were to be executed.  

He adds: "Some of us went   to see the execution. When we arrived, eight or nine prisoners   were lined up on the shore, their   backs to the land, with the fir-   ing party about 30 metres away.

There were two shooters to each   'Caucasian'.  

Kitamura and his friends, ac-   cording to his statement, were not allowed to witness the exe- cution, but before he left the

execution place he noticed Kondo   sitting in a chair behind the fir-   ing squad.    

Five days after the execution   a ship came from Rabaul, bring-

ing food and provisions, and "we   all thought what bad luck it was   for that particular batch of   prisoners to have been executed,   owing to the lack of food."  

Harukichi Ichonse said, in his   statement, that the prisoners had   been told they were being trans-   shipped to Rabaul and had no

idea they were to be executed.  

Kondon said, in his statement,   that "I did not have the heart   to allow the prisoners to be

executed," but added that he   constantly was asked to shoot   them by the commanding officer

of the air unit at Gasmata.  

When he refused, the air of-   ficer prevailed upon Warrant

Officer Ichimura to carry out   the execution. Ichimura called

out air unit maintenance crews and had the prisoners shot.