Few could forget the Nazi war crimes trials at Nuremberg in 1945-46 but not many Australians know of the war crimes trials of 10 Japanese officers held at the same time in Darwin.
The three Darwin trials were just a fraction of the 300 trials of Japanese soldiers for war crimes held by Australia all across the Asia-Pacific after WWII.
Two academics who spent five years working on a project to analyse the legal and historical dimensions of the trials say most people will be surprised to hear that the trials ever took place on Australian soil.
Darwin was chosen mainly for its convenience - it was easier than transporting all the military personnel and equipment needed to East Timor, where the bulk of the crimes took place.
It was also a sensitive choice, given Darwin had been bombed by the Japanese 64 times from 1942-43, destroying swathes of the city.
Nine officers were tried at the first trial but only three captains were convicted on charges of torture and ill treatment of Australian and British soldiers.
The rules of evidence allowed the admission of unsworn statements and hearsay, and the prisoner-of-war witnesses were not required to attend the trial and be cross-examined.
Curtin University law lecturer Narrelle Morris presented her research on the trials at a Red Cross function in Darwin on Wednesday night.
She said proceedings were complicated by the fact that the official interpreter had only elementary Japanese as did some of the officers who were Korean and Taiwanese.
The first trial related to the activities of a secretive SAS-type unit, known as the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD), which dropped behind Japanese lines in East Timor to spy on and sabotage the Japanese.
The Japanese found the buried wireless and code book of one operative, and tortured him into revealing the code, which they used for two years to listen in on operation transmissions, send fake messages, intercept supplies, and to ambush, capture and kill subsequent units who broadcast their plans to that receiver.
At the end of the war in August 1945, the SRD received final signals from that wireless from the Japanese army, thanking them for all the information supplied and wishing them good health, Dr Morris said.
"It's not surprising that the SRD did not want the fact that they were successfully conned for two years to come straight out of the mouths of their own members on the stand, given that they had been taken prisoners-of-war and tortured as a result of the SRD's inability to detect that they had been compromised," she said.
When one three-month and two one-month sentences were handed down by the court to three Japanese captains involved in the scam and torture there was a public outcry, said Georgina Fitzpatrick, honorary research fellow at the University of Melbourne.
"Even the Japanese were stunned by the verdicts," she said.
One eyewitness described how "(one captain) looked incredulously at the court and then bowed in a dazed manner".
The public fury at what they regarded as lax sentences resulted in letters to editors and questions in Parliament, because other trials being held in the region resulted in officers being executed by firing squads for more serious crimes.
None of those captains at the first Darwin trial was accused of murder, and they were acting under orders.
The second and third trials convicted the same man, Lieutenant Yutani Yujiro, first of the torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, for which he received a sentence of ten years' hard labour, and then of the murder of the same prisoners, for which he received a death sentence.
He was transferred to Rabaul in Papua New Guinea and executed by firing squad.
Shooting was seen as a more honourable death for a military man than hanging, and therefore indicated their war crime was of a lesser gravity, Dr Morris said, which also did not impress the Australian public.
The outcry over the perceived leniency of the sentences was such that those were the last war crimes trials to be held in Australia, Ms Fitzpatrick said.