Gabriel Bach, prosecutor in Israel's trial of Nazi Eichmann, dies

Former Supreme Court judge described as 'one of the great jurists' in nation's history

Gabriel Bach became a judge on Israel's Supreme Court in 1982 and served for 15 years before retiring. AFP

The man who helped to prosecute Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann has died aged 94.

Gabriel Bach was a young Israeli deputy state attorney in 1960 when Eichmann, a key architect of Adolf Hitler's so-called "Final Solution" to exterminate Europe's Jews, was seized by Israeli secret agents.

Supreme Court president Esther Hayut described Bach as "one of the great jurists" in the nation's history, in remarks released by the court.

The death of Bach, who also served as a judge on Israel's top court, had earlier been confirmed by the judicial authority, which did not give a cause of death.

Days after Eichmann was arrested on May 11, 1960, by a team of Israeli spies in Argentina, where he had been living under an assumed name, the Germany-born Bach received a call from then justice minister Pinchas Rosen.

In a 2020 interview with AFP, Bach recalled what Rosen asked.

"He said: 'Mr Bach, I imagine that you will be one of the prosecutors in the case, but I have a request to make. I would like you to be in charge of the whole investigation against Eichmann'," Bach said.

At the trial, which opened in April 1961, attorney general Gideon Hausner was lead prosecutor, with Bach as his deputy.

But it was Bach who led the months-long pretrial investigation, relocating from Jerusalem to northern Israel, where an entire prison had been cleared for Eichmann's detention.

Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann was arrested by a team of Israeli spies in Argentina, where he had been on the run for years. PA

At the prison, renamed Camp Iyar, Bach co-ordinated a team of about 40 police officers who interrogated and compiled evidence against Eichmann.

Bach said he remained haunted by the man who was so committed to his genocidal cause that he reportedly chastised fellow Nazis who wavered when forcing Jewish children into gas chambers.

"Not a day passes without me remembering some particular item, or some particular piece of evidence, or some particular moment from the Eichmann trial," said Bach.

Bach had grown up in Berlin, but his family fled in 1938, shortly after the area where his Zionist school was located had been renamed Adolf Hitler Square.

The family ultimately settled in British-mandate Palestine.

Bach became a judge on Israel's Supreme Court in 1982 and served for 15 years before retiring.

Updated: February 21, 2022, 8:27 AM