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Former war crimes prosecutor presents public talk on Philippines atrocities during WWII

NEWPORT, R.I. – Allan A. Ryan, a former war crimes prosecutor and author of Yamashita’s Ghost: War Crimes, MacArthur’s Justice and Command Accountability, will present a lecture about the capture and execution of a Japanese general who was found to be responsible for horrific war crimes committed by soldiers in the Philippines during World War II .

Ryan, who teaches a course on the law of war at Boston College Law School and a course called “War Crimes, Genocide and Justice” at the Harvard Summer School, will question whether Gen. Yamashita’s prosecution represented a miscarriage of justice. Free and open to the public, he will present his talk on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Pell Center, corner of Bellevue and Ruggles avenues on Salve Regina’s campus.

Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP to or 401-341-2927.

“[Yamashita’s Ghost is] the most penetrating and disturbing analysis yet written of the most important war crimes trial to emerge from the U.S. war with Japan,” wrote Michael Schaller, author of Douglas MacArthur: Far Eastern General. “It’s impossible to read this historical account without reflecting on how the United States has pursued the current war on terror.”

Ryan graduated from Dartmouth College and magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School, where he was president of the Minnesota Law Review. He served as a law clerk to Justice Byron White on the Supreme Court of the United States, and then was a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. He later was Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States, arguing eight cases on behalf of the government in the Supreme Court.

In 1980, he was named the first Director of the Office of Special Investigations in the U.S. Department of Justice, responsible for the investigation and prosecution of Nazi war criminals in the United States. He returned to Cambridge in 1985 and has been a lawyer at Harvard since then, first in the Office of General Counsel and now at Harvard Business School.

Published last year by the University of Kansas Press, Yamashita’s Ghost: War Crimes, MacArthur’s Justice and Command Accountability was awarded the Outstanding Book prize by the Society for History in Federal Government and was a finalist for the American Bar Association’s award for Best Book of the Year. Yamashita’s Ghost is currently being developed as a documentary to be broadcast on PBS in 2014.