This chapter focuses on obedience to superior orders and related defences. It begins with an introduction to the different legal approaches to the plea of obedience to superior orders, thereby highlighting the dilemma faced by the Australian Military Courts with respect to the legal status of the plea. It gives context to the Australian trials, which were occurring at a time when the law relating to superior orders was in the midst of an historic shift. The chapter also traces the shift in the plea’s status under international law during the Second World War, as the Allies were facing the prospect of trying German and Japanese soldiers for war crimes potentially committed pursuant to superior orders. Finally, it examines the treatment of the plea and related defenses by the Australian Military Courts using specific examples from the trial reports.
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