A few days ago, Antonio Cassese, a renowned international war crimes expert, died at his home in Florence, Italy at the age of 74.
A well-known professor of international criminal law, he was appointed in 1993 as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, based at the Hague. It was the first international criminal tribunal since the ones that followed World War II.
Among his early decisions, seen as controversial at the time but widely accepted since, were several that changed basic precepts of international criminal law. One was that war crimes could be punished not only in wars between nations, but also in conflicts within a particular country. In another, he wrote that even if there was no war going on, massacres, torture and other atrocities committed by governments or groups could be found to be crimes against humanity and punished accordingly.
In 2009, he became president of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon established by the United Nations to try the alleged assassins of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri, who was killed in 2005 in a car bomb attack in Beirut.